The story of the weekend was special teams for the Miners. UTEP’s power play has been noticeably effective all year and that was no different this series, but the Miners PK was exceptional. Texas A&M went O for 7 on the power play on Monday and 0 for 8 on Tuesday, including a two-man advantage that lasted over a minute. Penalties are going to happen, infractions will occur, the test is to see if the team can have the backs of punished parties in the box and UTEP answered that question with resounding confidence.
The first period on Monday set the tone for an increasingly physical two days at the El Paso County Events Center. Both teams came out playing a fast, aggressive game, and with that territory comes huge hits in the corners, on the boards and in open ice. Carlo Wittor opened the scoring Monday, scoring from two absolute gems from Jayden Ritchie and Austin Simpson. Noah Vanderzwan got his goal from the exact same two helpers to end the first period.
The second period would see plenty of action including some great chances on both sides of the ice. In a story that is starting to get repetitive, Angus Campbell was spectacular and even recorded an assist on UTEP’s third goal of the game. Campbell sent a long pass to Ritchie on the power play who found Austin Simpson for the tally. Ritchie would end the game with 4 assists, that’s an assist on every single goal the Miners scored. Have a day, Jayden Ritchie.
The third period saw Carlo Wittor notch his second tally of the game on an even-strength bid. Unfortunately, Campbell’s shutout was stolen from his mitt when Texas A&M scored their only goal of the game with ten minutes left in the third.
With only have four home games remaining in the season the Miners looked to end this week’s tilt against the very fast and physical Texas A&M on a positive note after grabbing a 4-1 victory in game one. Just when the home crowd didn’t think the UTEP penalty kill could be more prolific, killing 7 out of 7 penalties on Monday, the Miners outdid themselves and killed 8 out of 8, including a long 5-on-3 chance Tuesday morning.
Texas A&M got off to a lightning fast start, scoring the first goal of the game in the first two minutes on an even-strength bid. It would take until the back end of the period, but Carlo Wittor would answer for the Miners, finding the back of the net on the power play, assisted by Fabian Perez and Austin Simpson. The period only saw two goals, but plenty of action. The second day of any back-to-back series feels more physical, but Texas A&M has the bodies to kick that up a notch. Never did 20 seconds go by without a hit or great chance for either team.
The second period belonged to the Miners who came out determined to get back on top. Dominik Taras picked up a goal from Austin Simpson and Carlo Wittor. Simpson would end the period with three points, including a goal, and rack up four points on the day. Carlo Wittor helped the Miners to start pulling away, getting a tally of his own with Jake Kopinski on the helper with Simpson, and Simpson would pick up his tally with the help of Jayden Ritchie and Fabian Perez. The Aggies found their second and final goal of the game late in the second period.
The third period saw some exciting play by both clubs who played 120 minutes of lights out hockey in 24 hours, but there was no score from either side, ending the game with a 4-2 Miner victory and another perfect homestand.
Miners face one of their biggest tests of the season when they welcome the University of Texas Longhorns to the rink on Jan. 14th and 15th. Puck drop for both games is scheduled for 11 A.M.
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