Just Chirp’n 14

Just Chirp’n #14 2009-2010
Dec. 2, 2009

by Michael Hissam

How could a coach be in a pickle when his team is 24-3 and clamping down its hold on first place?

It’s when the team practices harder than it plays.

El Paso Rhino Coach Cory Herman doesn’t know the answer, other than seeing the symptoms.  What bothers him is the San Antonio team knocked off last week in their rink comes to El Paso this week with revenge in mind.

“We’ve always said, ‘practice as you would play the game.’”  Translation: “Keep the consistent, same level of intensity that you displayed in practice for the weekend games.  Sixty minutes, boys!”

Herman pointed out, “We’re not getting the full 60 minutes on the ice; we’ve got to go 60 to get to top level.  We don’t always to that.  We might get ‘bit.’”  “Bit?” Think trasero, en español, think dawg bite in English. Think loss in any language.

With the season half over, and the December games on tap, the coach looked toward the first month of 2010.  “From that point, the season goes quickly.  February starts the playoffs.  We’ve got to get into a good situation for the playoffs.”

Never one to assume, Herman might just be concerned about the Western Division of the WSHL.  Fresno is 23-0, with an overtime loss.  Idaho is 18-2, with three overtime losses.  Old nemesis Phoenix is 10-6, and two dropped overtime games.  Anyone who finishes in playoffs of the Midwest division dreams about causing a train wreck for the Rhinos.

However, Herman has reactivated another weapon in the arsenal.  Goalie Andrew Duff only gave up one goal in his return to action last weekend.  He’s the likely starter Friday, continuing his return from a nearly two-month layoff due to a leg injury suffered in Tulsa.

“Unbelievable, the only word to describe it!” said Duff when asked about his first steps onto the ice, post-injury.  “I had been working with physical therapist Mark Scott on stretches, bending, straightening and weights.  We worked on eye-hand coordination.

“Coach Herman and the team were very supportive.  They knew I wanted to be back, but not to push the return.  All I want to do now is help this team get to where we need to be at the end of the season.”

With mucho, mucho respect to the top news of the day, Herman could not have picked a better time for Military Appreciation Weekend.  All military personnel get free admission, compliments of Interglobal Logistics.  Events feature a “free raffle” of game uniforms for Friday and Saturday.  Many members of the military who serve overseas in the war zones have come through El Paso.  Many love to come down to the ice house when they are here.  They have more than earned.

There will also be a box for toy (new or used) donations to the less fortunate.

Ouch! Department:  Casey Lutz, wrist; Ben Vidro, leg, apparently overdid it in practice.  They’ll be watching the San Antonio series from the wrong side of the dashers.  Vidro’s home town, Comfort, is about an Austin Balko slapshot from San Antonio.  Vidro will tell you Comfort is not far from Welfare – no kidding!

Here’s one:  During an ECHL game in Salt Lake City last week, I saw a double penalty shot awarded to a Utah Grizzlies’ player.  I know why the first was awarded – hauled down from behind while shooting.  I have an e-mail out for a better explanation for the second.  I saw my first hockey game 55 years ago.  I never saw a double penalty shot.