Just Chirp’n #11 2009-2010
November 19, 2009
by Michael Hissam
They’re halfway home. Make that halfway to the second season.
As the El Paso Rhinos barrel their way through the Midwest Division of the Western States Hockey League, they got a break this week. Most of them went home to see family and friends. Comes Monday, it’s back on the ice to prepare for the day-after-Thanksgiving-tilt in San Antonio.
They might be a bit rusty, but the work will be there waiting for the Rhinos, according to Coach Cory Herman. “We got 24 games behind us; 27 ahead of us including the showcase – a total of 60 or so counting the playoffs, if we get there. It’s a long season. I encouraged our guys to have a holiday. However, you can bet many of them took their skates to get some ice time somewhere.”
Work includes “fine tuning” of what has become a meaner machine. “We got to ramp up to the playoffs. I want guys who believe we can come back when we are down by one with a minute to go. I want guys who can stop the opponent’s scoring when there is one minute left.”
This more aggressive Rhinos team, coupled with a more intense work ethic represents the biggest surprise for the coach this season. “We are much more aggressive on the fore check.”
Borrowing loosely from the “Plus/Minus” hockey concept, the coach took the mid-year analysis a bit further:
• Plus: “Scoring punch and work ethic.” This team has 149 goals.
• Minus: “Aggressive on the fore check. We need to be aggressive all over the rink. Players are not always taught this.”
• Players to note: Trevor Erickson, John Redmond
• Plus: “We move the puck well in our end. We’re good on our powerplay. We move the puck well, find the seams and our open guys.”
• Minus: “Wingers need to do a better job along the wall in our end – chip it out or make better decisions. They need to communicate better with their partners. They need to envision that 6-foot ‘box’ in front of our goalie, own it and clear that area out. There’s also some overhandling of the puck on our power play.”
• Players to note: Andrew Ketterer, Michael Bottcher
• Plus: “Andrew Duff played well until he was hurt. Max Dizgun stepped up in his place. David Eland adjusted well. We’re solid.”
• Minus: None. “If they give us a chance to win every night, they’ve done their job.” At 21-3, they’ve been working.
• Players to note: All three.
Swap shop: Herman just picked up Joshua Rolfe, defenseman, from the Bozeman Ice Dogs for “future considerations.”
Early Christmas shopping? Military appreciation night happens Dec. 4 against San Antonio. Player jerseys from that night will be auctioned off the following night. Proceeds go to Operation Santa Claus. Help fill the box out front with toys for those less fortunate.
Have a great Dia de Dar Gracias (Thanksgiving).