Just Chirp’n #27 (2009-2010)
March 3, 2010
by Michael Hissam
“The Road to the Cup goes through El Paso!”
Those words from Coach Brent Cullaton have been resonating in Boulder, Colorado all week as his Boulder Bison prepare to board the bus for the 10-hour trip south. It is round two of the playoffs, this time in El Paso against the Rhinos in the Midwest Division of the Western States Hockey League. As with round one, it is best two of three games. Just a few weeks ago in a regular season match in El Paso, Cullaton was heard to say, “You guys better get used to playing in El Paso. We are coming back.”
For El Paso Coach Cory Herman, playoff excitement represents “what you coach all season for. I love it. It is the best part of the season.”
He expressed a degree of satisfaction over the practices this week. “Everybody’s ramped up; everybody’s really excited. But we do have a couple things to work on.” He had some concern following last Saturday’s win over San Antonio. In that game he felt the team had not been hitting on all cylinders, giving a performance that was not up to Friday’s romp over the guys from Alamo City.
Looking to the Boulder series, his key message to the Rhinos called for taking advantage of every opportunity on the ice. “Leave everything out there!”
That last quote is hockey shorthand for, “Play each shift as though it is your last. When you look in the mirror in the locker room you can say, ‘I honestly gave 110 percent!’”
Herman quickly said, “We got to shut Boulder down. We need the ‘A’ game in every zone.
Cullaton expressed confidence about the task his troops face this weekend in El Paso. The Bison racked up 14 goals and only gave up two versus Tulsa on his home ice. “We played smart and with discipline. Tulsa did not match up to our work ethic. For us, everyone stepped up.
“We know Cory (Herman) will have his team ready. But our attitude is we want to come in. We want to win. It’s just in a hockey player’s blood to want to win more! El Paso is the team to beat.”
Boulder’s bench boss did not indicate which goalie he would start on Friday. Mathieu Laberge has a 2.91 goals-against average. Taylor Fant checks in with a 3.22 average.
El Paso netminders Andrew Duff and Max Dizgun have dazzled divisional opponents. Each has held the other teams to fewer than two goals a game on average.
Over in the Western Division, Fresno plays host to El Paso playoff archrival Phoenix in a series that starts Sunday. The winner of the Fresno-Phoenix event will host the winner of the El Paso-Boulder series in the finals for the Thorne Cup.