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12/11/2011 2:00 AM -
Weekend of Giving Back Stamped with a Win
Dec. 10, 2011
EL PASO , TX – Just 24 hours after getting trampled by the Fresno Monsters at the Sierra Providence Event Center, the Rhinos found a way to bounce back 7-3 despite 11 penalty kills to bookend their weekend tribute of the USO/US Military with a win. The defending Mid-West Conference Champs improved to 17-4-0 after holding two of the top five WSHL scorers, Nick Mckee and Marc Haaf, to a point each.
It wasn’t a pretty win with El Paso going on the penalty kill 11 times, a shocking three more than in the previous night’s loss to the same team. The diamond in the rough though was how the team performed on the PK, only allowing two goals. The key to this success Coach Cory Herman claims is due to their unique style of special teams play:
“We really like to play extra aggressive. Where most teams will sit back in a box [formation], we like to go on the attack.” Simply put, it seemed to work the night before and they went back to it again which the team desperately needed to stay in the game. And when asked what changed between last night and tonight, he explained, “We just wanted it more. We kept it simple by driving harder and hitting harder so it showed.” John Morales and Dallas Szustak’s both put up two goals and an assist which was all the Rhinos would need to secure the victory.
It was an overall successful three game home stand for El Paso as they finished the short series 2-1 against the Monsters; but the real story was more so what happened off the ice. In true Christmas-season-fashion, this weekend was all about giving back. In honor of the Army base: Fort Bliss, the Rhinos dedicated their games to the USO and all members of the US Militaries plus their families were allowed free admission with 20% off all Rhinos Merchandise.
The festivities started on the first and only Thirsty Thursday of December with $1 Buds and Bud Lights, but Friday is where the real spirit of the holidays was felt. On top of the merchandise discount, the Rhinos hosted a gift card raffle for all of the soldiers in attendance (this carried over to Saturday’s game also), and aside from the military events, they carried out a Teddy Bear Toss in memory of Joni Arnett to benefit the Child Crisis Center. The most remarkable night of them all though was tonight when the team auctioned off their camouflage jerseys with all proceeds going to the USO.
Next for the Rhinos and the Monsters, they will travel to Las Vegas to play in the WSHL Showcase Tournament starting Saturday, December 17th. El Paso will be playing for four straight days with plenty of college scouts in the stands to watch these young stars put it all on the line. For more information go to www.elpasorhinos.com
Matt Prosser | El Paso Rhinos Beat Writer | Follow on Twitter @kssuMattProsser
Matt Prosser is a freelance writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. For the past two seasons he has been the voice of California State University, Sacramento Hockey and is the host of The Sports Cycle with Matt Prosser on KSSU 1580AM in Sacramento and KSSU.com. His other broadcasts include Hornets football, baseball, and softball as well. To get in touch with Matt for comments and writing ventures please e-mail him at MProsser58@gmail.com