OKLAHOMA CITY – Drew Sutton scored on a give-and-go with Joey Delgreco in the final minute of overtime to propel the Oklahoma Warriors over the El Paso Rhinos 3-2 for their sixth straight win, and 18th straight as a home team going back to the 2021-22 season Saturday at Blazers Ice Centre.
For a second straight night the Warriors scored the first goal of the game, this time in front of a sold out crowd at Blazers Ice Centre. While on the powerplay, Brendan Williams began the sequence that would lead to his 15th goal of the season to tie Rylan Brady for the team lead. Williams sent the puck to Max Dronen at the top of the right-side circle from behind the net before Dronen continued the play to Owen Baumgartner at the blueline. Baumgartner then skated to the top of the slot, drew attention to himself and passed to Williams for a backdoor tip-in to give Oklahoma a 1-0 lead 4:33 into the opening frame. Despite being outshot 8-6, the Warriors took the lead into intermission.
With the Rhinos on a carryover powerplay to begin the second period, Oklahoma took advantage of a shorthanded opportunity to go up 2-0. Owen Dyer retrieved the puck behind his net and sent it to Hunter Jones, who got a step away from the Rhino who was supposed to be covering the right point. Jones and Dyer then skated into the Rhinos zone on a 2-on-1 and Jones ripped home his 12th goal of the season. The 2-0 goal, which came just 91 seconds into the second period, was the third shorthanded goal of the season for Jones which set the franchise record for most shorthanded tallies in a season. El Paso got a goal of its own, on the powerplay, when an Oklahoma clearing attempt hit a linesman inside the zone and fell in a fortunate place for the Rhinos to sling one in 8:08 into the middle frame. The Warriors kept the Rhinos from striking again and took a 2-1 lead into the third period.
Oklahoma pushed for much of the third period, but couldn’t find the next goal, despite having one disallowed. With time winding down, the El Paso bench pulled its netminder for an extra attacker, and the Rhinos scored on a 6-on-5 play with just 44 seconds remaining to force overtime.
The Warriors controlled play in overtime and forced a turnover to end the game with just 34 seconds left in the extra-time period. Delgreco stole the puck at the El Paso blueline and exchanged passes with Sutton toward the net. Sutton hammered home his 13th of the season to send the crowd into a frenzy and dash any comeback hopes that the Rhinos may have had.
The Warriors will be back in action for a weekend set of 7:15 p.m. puck drops against the Corpus Christi IceRays January 27 and 28 at the Blazers Ice Centre in Oklahoma City.