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11/25/2009 3:45 PM -
“Fine tuning” on the march toward the playoffs continues for both the El Paso Rhinos and this weekend’s host team San Antonio Diablos.
El Paso (21-3, 42 points), seemingly comfortable in first place, comes off the “loved/dreaded” bye week. Everybody loves getting the previous weekend off; everyone dreads getting the rust out and the focus back for the next. “We got to get refocused. We need these three games,” declared Rhino Coach Cory Herman.”
Comfortable? Nope. Herman is allergic to the word. “Hard work is expected. The new guys (into the season, and the guys added since) know we stress ‘How you were in practice equals how you will do in the weekend’s games.’ I got to hand it to them, they have been great in practice this week.”
Over the past couple weeks, Herman pointed to “consistency” as critical to the fine-tuning process. “We work on consistency. We must be consistent all the time. We emphasize that in practice – where the expectation is to be the best. My vision is four lines, six defensemen and two goalies who will be at 110 percent at the end of the season.”
In the interim, he doesn’t expect much less, nor will allow the team to live off past team or individual laurels. Ask any Rhino. Same answer.
Scratch and Dent Department: Goalie Andrew Duff is ready to go from the early-season injury in Tulsa. Herman has not tipped his hand on the starting goalie decision for Alamo City on Friday. Still out of commission: David Fegler, Tim Avegard and Drew Montague.
Diablo report: Diablo Coach Zac Desjardins said his team (8-16, 16 points) is more focused and ready to do battle with the Rhinos, en route to boosting chances for the playoffs. “What we’re looking at is two of the hardest working teams in the league. My team is more focused, they have been learning the system. We stress hard work even more so than skills. We need to give it all for 60 minutes, 100 percent of the time.”
Desjardins cited the play of Diablo J.P. Kascsak who came to San Antonio via ice time in Walpole, Massachusetts. “He’s a leader and a confidence builder. We expect a couple goals from him a night, no matter the score.
“Matt Guffey has also become a leader on this team.”
San Antonio’s bench boss added that taking one of three on the road last week from New Mexico has been important. “We’ve had good practices. We do have a ‘short bench’ which means everyone gets out on the ice. We are determined to get to the playoffs.”
For Desjardins and company, that road to the playoffs comes to El Paso next month.
Look for bang ‘em up hockey – duro y pesado -- in both cities.
Buen dia de dar gracias. Happy Thanksgiving.