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10/04/2010 12:03 AM -
It might not be the start the El Paso Rhinos are used to, but after losing so much leadership from the 2009-10 edition, a 3-3 record is progress.
After losing their first regular-season series ever to the defending Mid-West Division champion Boulder Bison -- going 1-2 in Boulder, CO, to start the season last weekend -- a new group of Rhinos took two-of-three against the Texas Brahmas, including very El Paso-like wins Saturday and Sunday.
The Rhinos followed a 3-0 series-opening loss Friday night with an 8-1 win Saturday and a 5-3 victory Sunday in Dallas.
Gone are record-holders like former team captain Austin Balko and stalwart goalie Andrew Duff.
Say hello to new players like forward Todd Thomas, who scored four goals on the weekend -- two apiece Saturday and Sunday -- and Keenan Wallace, the third goaltender on last year's squad.
The lanky Alaskan continues to improve with time in net, stopping all but one Brahmas' shot in Saturday's win. This while having turned only 18 before the season started.
"We had really built to last year," said El Paso head coach Cory Herman. "We lost so much leadership that it'll take a few weeks to get everybody on the same page.
"But we have speed and these are some good, hard-working players. We'll get there."
The Rhinos will return home in time for classes Monday and will get three solid weeks of practice before taking the ice at home against the team that took the divisional crown from them last season. The Boulder Bison will be in El Paso for a three-game series starting Friday, Oct. 22, through Sunday, Oct. 24.
For season tickets and information, contact the El Paso Rhinos front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825).