Scratching at a Brick Wall
Dec. 19, 2011
LAS VEGAS, NV – “Bad day” pretty much sums up what happened to the El Paso Rhinos on Monday in Sin City. The Rhinos caught a hot Idaho Junior Steelheads team on one of their better games of the season, getting shutout 3-0. El Paso had a rough time getting any clean shots on goal and it showed. In the team’s worst day of the Western States Shootout both on the scoreboard and shot production, they mustered up just 25 shots against Jordyn Kaufer, the number one goalie in the WSHL in both goals against average and save percentage. That kind of performance against one of the top goaltenders at this level is just not going to get it done and the Rhinos found that out the hard way.
The Junior Steelheads on the other hand scraped together a decent day’s work against the boys in orange; they scored twice against Trent Casper and pocketed the empty netter to close the game out in the final seconds of play. Casper, who saw action for the first time in the tournament, played solid but just not solid enough for the win which seems to be the Rhino’s forte for almost all of their losses this month. The team just can’t seem to string together more than two wins in succession; and it is this inconsistency that poses the threat of costing them a shot at the Thorne Cup again. Bottom line: they just don’t look like the same El Paso team that swept the Gulls and the Snipers almost two months ago. When playoffs come around, it won’t matter if you were the division winner during the regular season or if you put in a good effort if you can’t force any breaks to go your way and win multiple games in a row.
The big question for Rhino fans is will they be able to bounce back after this loss? Well, first of all it is important to note that they lost to the Mountain Division leaders; and while their ability to win in a big game like this is concerning, the team needs to just pop in the annoying Daniel Powder song made famous by American Idol and put this one behind them. However, it won’t get any easier in their Las Vegas finale as they will be playing a Fresno Monsters team that will be coming for vengeance. These two faced off against one another during El Paso’s weekend of tribute to the USO just last week where the Rhinos won 2 of 3. It is also worth noting that Fresno will be skating into Tuesday’s game with some momentum coming off of their 6-1 rout over the Seattle Totems. The puck drops from the Las Vegas Ice Center at 10:30am where we will find out if Monday’s shutout was deflating or inspiring for the ones with the horned noses.
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