01/07/2010 4:52 PM
Just Chirp’n #19 (2009-2010)
January 7, 2010
by Michael Hissam
Happy New Year, Rhino style!
There’s nothing humble about this weekend’s ice hockey schedule in El Paso: It’s Number One El Paso Rhinos versus Number Two Boulder Bison in what might be the preview of bigger things to come late next month.
Back from successful – but humbling experiences – from the pre-Christmas Western States Hockey League Showcase these teams appear fired up to put on a good show for los aficionados de El Paso.
“We got to keep in mind Boulder has been taking one of three from us every weekend we have met them!” declared Rhino Coach Cory Herman. “Don’t let their 1-3 record in the showcase fool you. That one victory came against Phoenix, the team that beat us at the showcase.”
Herman noted that his guys (2-2 in the showcase) got back into town pronto after the holidays. “We’ve had four good practices this week. We’re excited about being in our own rink. But, what we have learned is the other teams are equally excited when they come into El Paso.”
Think bragging rights or superlative-ridden stories on the long ride back home for anyone who upends the Rhinos.
Practice this week focused more on the “fine tuning” of the systems including the power play and penalty kill. “We also worked on smarter dumps of the puck into the opponent’s zone. By keeping the puck away from their goalie we can establish a better forecheck.”
Herman added that other work in the morning sessions centered on better chemistry among players when lines have to be juggled during game situations.
Boulder Coach Brent Cullaton reported he plans on his “A-Team” heading to El Paso for the weekend rumbles. “What you will see is our playoff roster – a team that hopefully will play El Paso.” Cullaton continued to tout the efforts of his star player Derek Scanlon who immediately got “five or six letters” from the college scouts who watched the showcase action in Las Vegas.
Rhino defenseman and second-year player Josh DeLoach can’t wait to tangle with Boulder. “We haven’t swept them yet. That is our goal. We are very excited to get back on the ice.”
DeLoach, the lone Floridian on the Rhino roster, added he felt the showcase experience was great. “It was my second showcase; I was not as nervous. We were really excited to beat Fresno. There was great competition – fierce competition – there on all shifts. We waited all year to see what the other division was like. We’ll be able to hold our own in the playoffs!”