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Just Chirp'n 4

10/01/2009 6:21 AM -
Just Chirp’n  2009-2010  #4  Week of September 28

by Michael Hissam

This could be the Oklahoma “goal rush” of 2009 starting Friday night weekend in Tulsa.  However, two hot goalies may have other thoughts in mind as the high-scoring Tulsa Rampage hosts the also high-scoring El Paso Rhinos.

At stake for the El Paso Rhinos is the chance to regain their traditional perch in first place in the Midwest Division of the Western States Hockey League.  They sit in second, two points or one game behind the Rampage who have a 6-0-0 record.

“We got to take our ‘A’ game into their arena; we got to skate fast to open in Tulsa,” declared El Paso coach Cory Herman.  “They thrive on momentum and emotion – always strong, always working.”

Herman said his game plan includes more solid forechecking on the slightly smaller Tulsa rink.  He also is likely to keep veteran goalie Andrew Duff between the pipes, compliments of his surrendering a division-low 13 goals in six games – all on the road – to date.

First-year Tulsa bench boss Patrick Forseth plans to have goalie Zac Enstrom shut down the El Paso attack.  “He is hot; he is being scouted to go up.   We have a very offensive-minded team in front of him.  We hope to keep the momentum going.”

Forseth also credited his team’s fast start to a four-game exhibition series with the higher-level North American Hockey League Topeka Scarecrows.  “We got walked over, but we learned a lot and it is showing.  We expect a true test with El Paso.  I am seeing our practices show extreme dedication, high momentum and high pace.”

El Paso defenseman Andrew Ketterer – the team’s leading scorer with 11 points – sees Tulsa with an eye for revenge.  “My first loss as a Rhino came against Tulsa.  They’re always hard, always 100 percent and always tough.  We never blew them out.”  Ketterer made his case clear: “For the first time, the Rhinos are not in first place.  We’re going to put a quick end to that!”

He also pointed out that all Rhino skating lines are producing. “We’re playing well,” said the Peoria, Illinois resident.  His off-season experiences skating with players from that city’s AHL Rivermen may be paying early-season dividends for El Paso.

This weekend’s contests mark the third consecutive that the Rhinos helped the host team open the 2009-2010 home schedule.  “My guys are excited about that. And, in this case all the more as Tulsa is always a rival,” Herman added.

mhissam@elpasorhinos.com


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