El Paso, TX -- El Paso is still in the hunt for a Thorne Cup championship. The best part about the opportunity to contend for a WSHL championship is that the Rhinos get to do it at home.
"We are super excited," El Paso head coach Cory Herman said. "Any time you get a chance to be in the Thorne Cup, it's an exciting time. We are fortunate we get to play in front of our fans. We are looking forward to it."
El Paso knocked off Oklahoma City in the Mid-Western Division Finals to clinch a spot in the Thorne Cup. Oklahoma City earned an at-large bid to the six-team championship tournament.
Herman said this team is focused on playing its best hockey with a title on the line.
"We've had a good playoff run and we are going to continue to play hard," Herman said. "We are going to go out there and do our best to outwork you."
The Rhinos are in the midst of a phenomenal season, winning 49 of the 51 games they played in the regular season.
But all that matters now is surviving the challenges of the Thorne Cup, and Herman is confident his team is ready.
"You have to come out strong and be ready to play," Herman said. "You have to play hard for 60 minutes. It's a long five days. You have to eat well, take care of your body and be ready to play your best hockey."
Hard work has carried the Rhinos to a successful season. Jakob Kranabetter leads the team in scoring with 44 goals and 84 assists. Austin Simpson has come through with 38 goals and 60 assists.
Kayden Pickles and Filip Krasanovsky have led the way between the pipes, combining for 43 wins during the regular season.
At this point in the year, everyone is good. Herman knows that as well as anyone.
"The talent level of every team is great at this point. There aren't any easy games." Herman said. "We have to establish our game early and play at the level we are capable of playing at."