Just Chirp’n 21

Jan 21, 2010

Just Chirp’n #21 (2009-2010)

January 21, 2010

by Michael Hissam

Every coach goes through it – and it’s tougher when you have a winning team.

Roster changes happen in every sport.  Who’s coming in; who’s heading out.  But there remains a team that must perform as a team.  Yet how many times does one hear, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

For El Paso Rhino Coach Cory Herman that’s the challenge of the month as five players departed and three joined the first-place team.

“Chemistry” is the word – and it’s more complex than guys skating on H2O that’s below 32 Fahrenheit, or zero for you Celsius fans from the Dominion, o cero centigrado para compañeros mexicanos.

With the trading deadline of February 4 approaching, “We have to be very careful, as chemistry is very big as to how well the team can do,”

Herman said.  “Skill only takes you so far.  We are a tight knit team. Chemistry is what pulls you through as team. Twenty individuals working for themselves won’t.  We are an unselfish team and got to be careful.”

For new Rhinos Jordan Crews, Garrett Trummer and Vinny Bohn any “Bienvenidos a El Paso” letter probably features terms so near and dear to Herman:  “Hard work,” “Nuts and bolts,” “Blue collar,” “Very physical, ” all in the first sentence, probably before the first active verb, let alone the first paragraph, maybe before the “Dear Player” salutation.

“We are an unselfish team” probably would appear just above the coach’s autograph.

Making the decisions a bit harder for the coach is the trading deadline:  “It is so close to the end of our regular season.  To be playoff eligible, new players to the roster must skate in six games.  You may think you can always upgrade with better players, but you can unintentionally upset the applecart and wind up not being as strong as you were.”

Practice for the upcoming away-and-home series with the Tulsa Rampage featured more “fine tuning to keep sharp – working hard on the forechecks.  We got to make sure the peak is happening now – ‘run up the mouintain’ with 12 games left in the season.”
Departed Rhinos included David Fegler, Andrew Alpsteg, Mike Vallier, Drew Montague and Grant Ehlert.

By the Numbers Department:  One more El Paso win and one more Boulder loss or just two more Rhino wins wraps up another Midwest Division banner for the Rhinos.  If Boulder takes three more, that puts a finish to any playoff dreams for fourth-place San Antonio.

However the Boulder-Tulsa battle for second gets interesting.  At stake is another trip to El Paso in late February for Round One of the playoffs.  To finish out the season, Tulsa has three more games to play than Boulder.  Assuming Tulsa wins those three, they’d be 1 ½ games or three points behind the Bison – if the Colorado guys were not playing at the same time.  From that point, there would be 24 points up for grabs.  That second-place battle is by no means over.  Wonder what Tulsa owner Julie Wilson and coach Marty Quarters are thinking as they see the word, “Rhinos” for their next six games?  Come to think of it, what might Boulder coach Brent Cullaton might be up to with one eye on the Rhino-Tulsa scoreboard this weekend?

It all adds up to one reason behind Herman’s quote:  “This is the start of the most exciting part of the season.”