Home Opener

     This is Our House

After going 25-2 at home in the 2008 season the El Paso Rhinos look to pick up where they left off as they head into this weekend going up against their toughest test of the season when they play the Boulder Bison.

“They’re going to be our toughest opponent this season but if we play like we know we can then we’ll be fine,” said Navarro Copley, a first year player for the Rhinos.

The Boulder Bison are looking to spoil the Rhinos’ home opener this weekend the same way they ruined the season opener beating the Rhinos 5-2. “Yeah they’re coming in here to spoil the weekend,” said head coach Cory Herman. He is preparing his team to play in front of their loud fans against a tough team.

“Well we’re doing everything we can to get them ready,” Coach Herman said. “Come game time its up to them on how they play the game.”

Last season the Rhinos outscored their opponents 161-53 at the Sierra Providence Events Center. Since the loss against Boulder the Rhinos have outscored their opponent 74 -12 in just 11 games and need to make a statement this week when the Bison come into town.
The Rhino faithful are ready to take a stand and provide a hostile environment for the Bison to play in. The players are ready to put on a show for their loyal fans. Third year player and captain of the team Austin Balko said, “We’ve been waiting all season to play in front of our fans and were looking forward to playing in our home barn.”

With such a young team the Rhinos have an obstacle to overcome with the type of environment that the team is going to be playing in. It’ll be a true test to how well they are prepared and how disciplined they are at such a young age.

“I think we’ll be able to maintain our focus. We’ll feed off of the crowds’ energy and it’ll push us to do better,” said Copley. “I think we’ll do well as long as we come out and play the way were supposed to.”

People across the city of El Paso that have been loyal fans to the organization have high expectations for the team heading into this weekend. They know what kind of traditional hard work ethic that Coach Herman has his team in and they expect to see the same, especially from the younger players since they have to prove themselves.

“Its real simple, our team’s identity is hard work,” said Coach Herman. “All we have to do is out work them at every end of the rink. Every player is going to outwork the player he’s going against. That’s basically our plan.”

Going into the weekend the Rhinos have one goal and that is to win in front of their home crowd. Players like Austin Balko know what its like to play in front of the loud environment that the Rhino fans provide. The team will still have to stay focused on the game and ultimately winning all three games this weekend.

“Yeah having a bunch of fans is nice,” Balko said, “But everyone knows that the game comes first. So no one is going to lose focus on the ultimate goal of winning the game.”

The organization has the team ready to play against Boulder Bison. Their home opener has high expectations just like the rest of the season does and the Rhinos are looking to add three wins to their belt by late Sunday evening.
By Mykal Santana
UTEP Student