Just Chirp’n #17 (2009-2010)
Dec. 23, 2009
by Michael Hissam
Some of the greatest lessons in life are not found in textbooks, chalkboards or that electronic gadget hooked up through a computer to simulate reality. One of those lessons may be found learning how to adjust to what the other guy brings to you. Then be ready to adjust again.
Two losses by the El Paso Rhinos last weekend in the four-game Western States Hockey League showcase may have offered lessons — as for coach AND players.
For Coach Cory Herman, it’s finding the gaps he needs to close to get his team where he wants them to be in about two months – as in playoffs. He spotted the gaps more so through the losses, rather than the euphoria of victory in the marquee-game win over Fresno to start the weekend’s action.
For his players, in hockey language, it’s “burying the puck.” In another era, it was called, “killer instinct.”
Although the 700-mile plus bus ride back to El Paso might not have been a rollicking good time, post 3-1 loss to rival Phoenix, Herman gained insight as to where practice needs to go when the Rhinos hit the ice on January 4, 2010: “We’ve got to take advantage of opportunities. The focus needs to be there. We need to adjust quickly to what the other teams throw at us.”
Another message to his team – as if they haven’t already been re-living it though the 2-0 loss to Idaho – is “burying the puck.” He said, “When you get the chance, bury the puck!”
Herman gave a game-by-game review of the contests, each being two periods of 25 minutes:
• El Paso 4, Fresno 1: “We played them very well – against a very good team. We worked hard and did the little things right.”
• El Paso 4, San Diego 3: “We lost some jump in the second game of the day. We were a bit tired after Fresno.”
• Idaho 2, El Paso 0: “Best game physically end to end. This was the type of game from which you learn a lot. Their last goal was an empty netter. We had many chances, just did not bury the puck.”
• Phoenix 3, El Paso 1: “We outshot them; their goalie was unbelievable. We had great chances, but he always came up with the save. Again, we got to figure out how to bury the puck. That goalie stood on his head!”
Common to all four games: “Great competition!” Oft repeated: “Bury the puck!”
Boulder Bison Coach Brent Cullaton managed to catch much of the El Paso action. “The scouts – and there were many of them – wanted skaters. They wanted El Paso’s (Austin) Balko and (Josh) DeLoach. They want speed and skill.”
According to Cullaton, his star player Derek Scanlon already has received nearly a half-dozen letters from the scouts attending the Las Vegas hockey extravaganza.
Cullaton leads his team into El Paso on January 8. He also expressed his appreciation to the El Paso fans at the showcase who complimented him on the Bison progress to date. That progress seems to be heading toward an El Paso-Boulder showdown in late February.
Gracias a ustedes por todo en 2009; feliz navidad y prospero 2010 – con mucho hockey y salsa de El Paso!
To borrow from the United Nations: “I will waive consecutive interpretations.” You know what I mean.