Rhinos Finally Back to Winning Ways
Jan. 06, 2012
Grapevine, TX – It may have been a long time coming, mostly due to a two-week vacation, but El Paso Rhinos fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief as their team got back on track Friday on the road against the Dallas Ice Jets. After a disappointing performance at the Western States Shootout Showcase, El Paso was looking to right the ship.
Rhino’s Captain, Mike Rivera, commented “I thought the Showcase was a good thing to happen to us. It kind of brought us back down to reality and showed us that we’re not invincible.”
Apparently, Rivera wasn’t far off as the team learned some valuable lessons on adversity which they needed to implore tonight. After jumping off to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Rivera, the next three were scored by Dallas; two of them were by Grant Williams and the third by Austin Rehwinkel. Things were not looking good for El Paso being down 1-3 after an extended break. They just didn’t come out of the gates firing on all cylinders and what it seemed like was that the team had just a little too much eggnog and Christmas ham.
“Yeah we definitely started out sluggish” Coach Corey Herman stated. “It was somewhat expected but as I told the guys before the game, they need to make the plays instead of waiting for a teammate to do it for them. I think that’s what was happening in the first period and the beginning of the second.”
It was a short-lived trend though as the Rhinos snapped out of their post-New Year’s daze and got back to work. A great powerplay goal with two minutes remaining in the second period by Rivera got El Paso back to within one just before intermission. The third period was all Rhinos. With efforts by Matthew Trisch and Tyler Basham, they tied and took the winning lead to finish the game 4-3.
There were two keys to this game that separated the January 2012 Rhinos from the December 2011 Rhinos. One: Shots were more effective. The team was opening themselves up to get cleaner shots towards Dallas Goalie, Michael Baldwin and that created better opportunities. Also, the shots came at a premium in this one. In December, when the Rhinos played a goalie with elite talent like Baldwin, they weren’t shooting enough and that won’t put the puck in the net; whereas here, they tallied 38 which resulted in a winning effort. Second: Their goalie-play was a much better effort.
Casper shook off his rough weekend in Las Vegas by stopping 31 of 34 attempts by Dallas. The second effort was there in corralling rebounds and closing the holes quickly. That kind of net-minding will win them a Thorne Cup if he can keep it up.
The weekend got off on the right skate for El Paso against one of the better teams in the WSHL. Maybe the rest did more good for the Rhinos than anybody could have ever imagined. Only time will tell…and their next two games against the Ice Jets as well. Herman said that as long as they play with the effort they had in the third period, this series is theirs for the taking.
Matt Prosser, El Paso Rhinos Beat Writer for JuniorHockey.com. Matt is a freelance writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. For the past two seasons he has been the voice of California State University, Sacramento Hockey and is the host of The Sports Cycle with Matt Prosser on KSSU 1580AM in Sacramento and KSSU.com. His other broadcasts also include Hornets football, baseball, and softball. To get in touch with Matt for comments and writing ventures please e-mail him at MProsser58@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @kssuMattProsser or visit his website: www.kssusportscycle.com