10/07/2010 6:08 PM
Just Chirp’n #6 2010-2011
October 7, 2010
by Michael Hissam
What a difference a couple of wins make. By taking two of three from the Texas Jr. Brahmas last weekend, the Rhinos are back to .500, two points out of first.
No more queasy feeling from the press box.
As coach Cory Herman pointed out a couple weeks ago, this year’s squad has few returning veterans. Getting the guys with the system has been the focus of the coaching.
“The player effort is there,” Herman declared. “We are just having trouble putting the puck in the net. We are getting lots of shots.”
He explained that when the puck is not going in the net despite 50 or 60 shots a game (coaches get happy at about 40) “you got to stay positive. It only gets worse when the players start thinking about it. You want to keep them as loose as possible.
Herman said he while he is relatively happy about the quantity of shots, he does not want to see players forcing the shot. “When you are on and everything is going in, you shoot the puck all the time. When the puck is not going in that is when you might begin to be forcing the pretty pass. We came out better the Saturday night game (eight goals), and that is a big confidence booster.”
With two bye weeks until the Oct. 22 home opener, Herman wanted to build from the two consecutive wins and “fine tune the game a little more. We continue to work on the system.”
For the average paseño (El Pasoan), the 4,000-foot elevation usually is no problem. For hockey players coming in from lower altitudes, there may be need for some acclimation. “Conditioning is getting better. It is tough for some who come here.”
Just keep in mind that in Weekend One, the team skated in Boulder which is about 3,000 feet closer to outer space.
Among players impressing the coach is Garrett Poland who “has improved a lot since last season. He is a forward and is playing very well.” He also gave credit to goalie Keenan Wallace who has jumped to primary goaltender after being third on the totem pole last year.
Poland – featuring a bulked-up physique -- surprised more than a few people when he returned to town this summer – a month before camp. “Trevor Converse (player director) gave me a foot-speed program that made me quicker. I ran a lot more. On days I did not run, I lifted weights and did more cardio stuff. I came back about 15 pounds heavier, but in better shape. I noticed the different right away when I hit the ice.”
The 20-year old from Lincoln, Neb. admitted some of that weight has dropped compliments of Herman’s “hard work” practices. Also helping Poland is time at the training center’s skating treadmill. “I changed my stride and I am learning to skate better.”
While in El Paso this season, Poland also hopes to resume being a mentor for an area youngster. Last season he was one of five players to invest that important time at Crosby Elementary in northeast El Paso.