EL PASO -- The second the puck dropped Friday morning the whole arena could tell this was a different kind of animal than the Miners had faced at home at any point this season. The size and skill of East Texas Baptist was noticeable right from the get go and it lead to a 1 to 0 deficit early for the Miners. Luckily for the Miners Jayden Ritchie appeared to be a man on a mission, and picked up his first goal of the game close to half way in the first period. Ritchie would find two points on the day finding the back of the net again on an empty netter at the end of the game. ETBU would answer again in the first before Noah Vanderzwan would find the back of the net to head into the first intermission all square at 2.
The second period provided the highest entertainment although it only saw one goal from either side when Dominik Taras chipped home from a Jon Sanca pass. The physicality of the game came to an absolute head with a couple of roughing minors as well as a fighting major on both sides. It was obvious by the end of the second period that no matter how this game ended, Saturday was going to be very interesting to watch.
Less than a minute into the third period the speed of ETBU showed up big for the Tigers and they tied the game in spectacular fashion. The Miners showed their fight and their grit, keeping the game physical as the clock ticked on and Jon Sanca came to the rescue with the help of Vanderzwan and his brother Matt. The Miners went up 4 to 3 and never looked back as much of the final frame was played in the Tigers zone. The ETBU net was empty for a total of ten seconds before Jayden Ritchie put a bow on the game and Miners walked out with a 5 to 3 victory.
After a very close game on Friday morning, Saturday afternoon proved to be a less daunting task for Coach Herman and the Miners, but not without a great deal of drama despite a 10 to 0 score line in favor of the Miners. The first period only saw one goal for either side as Dominik Taras found the back of the net with Matt Sanca credited with the apple. The game was chippy from the time the puck dropped and that seemed to stem from a very physical and close game from the day before, that came to a head in the second period.
When everything was said and done at the end of the game the Tigers would rack up 93 penalties in minutes on 25 infractions to UTEP’s 26 minutes on 13 infractions. Much of this would come in the final two frames. Jayden Ritchie gave the Miners a little breathing room 8 minutes into the period and it only took another minute for Taras to pick up his second goal of the game. Noah Vanderzwan and Matt Sanca would finish the scoring for the Miners in the period but not before some big hits, battles in front of the net, and a whole lot of special teams play. It seemed as if the whole second period and much of the third was played with special teams ranging from normal power plays to 4 on 4 to 3 on five. Both teams were putting their bodies on the line heading into the third.
The only even strength goal of the game was Ritchie’s tally in the second. The third period brought more special teams and five more goals for the Miners including a fantastic effort from Austin Simpson to score extra short-handed while the Miners were on a 3 on 5 penalty kill with some dirty dangles and a quick wrister to slot it home. The Miners penalty killing deserves a heap of praise along with UTEP net minder Angus Campbell as they held the Tigers to 0 successful power plays on 8 chances. Angus Campbell also gets the shutout stopping 15 of 15 shots. The Miners will try and keep this momentum going into the next home stand when Dallas Baptist University visits the El Paso County Events center on November 30th and December 1st.
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