After 46 games, the start of the second season is here for the El Paso Rhinos. The Western States Hockey League Mountain Conference Champions are preparing to host the Phoenix Knights in the first round of the WSHL Playoffs. The two teams met six times during the regular season, with the Rhinos winning five out of the six games. However, the last three games were much closer than their first meeting last November. The Rhinos finished with the third highest points total in the WSHL (behind the Idaho Junior Steelheads and Dallas Ice Jets), but are aware that this playoff season will be the toughest yet. Rhinos Head Coach Cory Herman was asked about his team, the playoffs, and their first round opponents.

Photo courtesy of Steve Kaplowitz.







What kind of an advantage is it to host the first two rounds of the WSHL playoffs?

With the support we have, it is a big advantage.  It is very tough to play in our building, the fans are awesome to say the least.  There is a reason we have a massive banner that says “Home of the 7th man”.

You finished the season very strong in Albuquerque. What pleased you the most?

We had a good weekend, what impressed me the most was we stuck to the game plan.  Even when the games got out of hand, the players were still following the system.

How different are the Rhinos now compared to the start of the regular season?

We play to our strengths. It took our players awhile to grasp it, but they are now playing to their strengths, which is playoff hockey.

Do you feel better about your goaltending heading into the playoffs? Will Polumbo be your #1 goalie in the playoffs?

We have always felt good about our goaltending, sometimes players just need an opportunity but it also speaks wonders of a player when given the opportunity and they take advantage of it.

Your first round opponents, the Phoenix Knights played you very tough two weeks ago, with a pair of one goal games.

Those games were very tough; they are very well coached and follow their system very well.

How will you counter their revamped roster? 

There is no game plan that can beat a team that works hard and wants it more than the other team.  That’s how we will play.

Knights forwards Evan Smith (#11), Colin Bresnehan (26), Nick Pappas (13), and Michael Cummings (15) played well against you. What’s the key to shutting them down?

Limiting their space, keeping them 200 feet from our net.

How do the Rhinos match up position by position against the Knights?

 I think we match up great, it will be a good first round of playoffs.

You have some special St. Patty’s Day promos in store for the fans this weekend. Will the Rhinos be wearing special green jerseys?

We have a lot of St. Patty's Day promos going on. Green jerseys? I don’t think they make a green jersey, other than a Saskatchewan Roughrider jersey.