11/21/2009 3:26 PM
Home Ice Advantage…. well kinda.
The Rhinos opened another home season to their biggest opening night crowd in the teams 4 year history.
Rhino fans should take pride in both, the numbers that continually turn out to watch their boys in orange, and the relentless enthusiasm with which they support them.
Having traveled to every opponents building in the Midwest Division I can say without hesitation the Sierra Providence Events Center is the biggest and by far the most ruckus, and insane building these teams play in.
It’s not unusual, on the road, for the Rhinos to play in front of 40-50 people.
Which brings me to the “Home Ice Advantage” item.
The Rhinos play every game with a target on their back.
Undisputed Kings of the Midwest they are always the team the rest of the Midwest uses to measure themselves with, thus they get every teams best effort more often than not.
Unfortunately the other Midwest teams don’t have near the environment at home that the Rhinos enjoy.
They have the advantage of playing in their own rink with it’s idiosyncrasies so when they come to El Paso though the ice surface isn’t the same as it is at home the ice in the SPEC is fast, and usually in very good shape.
Add that to the crowd, which is something every kid wants to play in front of, even as a visitor.
The hostile crowds that gather at the SPEC for home games make playing the Rhinos a great experience even if they’re against you.
There is no joy playing in front of 20 people all of whom are probably parents.
That being said the opposing team has a little bit extra effort to put forth since people, and TV cameras are watching.
What could be a bigger thrill than to go into the SPEC and beat the Rhinos in front of a huge crowd and watch it the next day on TV?
Fans of the Rhinos who haven’t been on a road trip should try and make one, even if it’s just up to Rio Rancho you will find that the Rhinos are a few things:
Disliked pretty much everywhere and unequaled in fan support
Having traveled to all the venues in the Midwest I figure I’ll rank the experience for anyone who might be curious to make a trip.
#1 Boulder Valley Ice (Boulder)
Great place, a lot like the SPEC if it had been washed in hot water and shrunk
It lays out pretty similar, and the construction is identical except the ceiling is a little lower and the building itself is a little smaller, it still has that “barn” feel to it like the SPEC.
Talented team, well coached, the game day organization is pretty good, and the coffee shop around the corner is a great place run by really great people.
#2 Northwoods Ice & Golf Center (San Antonio)
Nice place, ice is usually decent, well maintained facility.
The crowd area is about 12 feet high over the ice, which is pretty cool, but kind of strange at the same time.
#3 Blades Multiplex (New Mexico)
Definitely the coldest rink in the league.
The smallest seating area in the league.
The restaurants, and hotel that the Renegades arranged are fantastic.
Turtle Mountain Brewing Co. has awesome food and super nice people working there. Go there.
#4 Oilers Ice (Tulsa)
What makes Tulsa #4 is more about the dimensions of the ice and building.
The ceiling is very low and the netting is pulled over the glass over the ice surface at a very acute angle so if you lift the puck out using the glass you always hit the net.
The ice surface itself is very small.
It’s a great advantage for Tulsa to play in their own rink.
So if you get a chance go check out a road game for yourself.
See what it’s like to be an El Paso Rhino
MSG aka Soundguy