Jan. 12, 2012
El Paso, TX – The El Paso Rhinos learned a hard lesson Thursday night against the New Mexico Renegades. That lesson? Posts do not count as goals. In fact hitting the post is rather symbolic of how their contest turned out: the effort was there, they just couldn’t finish it when they had the chance. It is remarkable that the Rhinos had almost twice as many shots as the Renegades and lost the game 3-2 in a shootout.
The game got off to a quick start for El Paso with Alex Koopmeiners opening the scoring up on the power play just three minutes in. Right off the bat it looked as though it would be a long and unrewarding night for goalie Eric Messer of New Mexico, but this is why they play the whole game. He played outstanding throughout the rest of the game stopping 42 out of 44; had it not been for him, this would have been a blowout. He only allowed one other goal to slide past him which was also on the power play by Matthew Pietrzykowski in the second period which gave the Rhinos their largest lead of the evening 2-0.
However, you know what they say: “two goal games are the worst lead in hockey” as Head Coach Cory Herman stated. This is when the leading team gets comfortable, unknowingly loses their sense of urgency, and players begin to take shifts off.
Coming into the third period it looked just all but over until Adam Moon finally put New Mexico in on the box score for more than just penalties with an unassisted beauty deflecting off of a defenseman up front. Mike Rivera’s reaction to the goal earned him two minutes in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct and just 41 seconds later, Matt Uvodich tied it up on the powerplay off of a feed from John Voyles.
Other opportunities for both teams would come up in the third and overtime periods but after no more goals, the teams went to a shootout where New Mexico was able to cap off possibly the most impressive come-from-behind win of the season. They may have started off lethargic from the longest break of any team in the WSHL, but stepped up in a big way when it was absolutely necessary.
Herman concluded his statement by saying, “We need to learn to put teams away. We outplayed them but had two bad bounces; both went off our d-man’s sticks and we hit a lot of posts. We had real good pressure, just couldn’t bury it in the end.” The encouraging news for Rhino fans is that if they play with the same intensity as they did and score on a couple of those pingers, they should be able to walk away with win on Friday.
Matt Prosser, El Paso Rhinos Beat Writer for JuniorHockey.com. Matt 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 also include Hornets football, baseball, and softball. To get in touch with Matt for comments and writing ventures please e-mail him at MProsser58@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @kssuMattProsser or visit his website: www.kssusportscycle.com.