El Paso Rhinos

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El Paso Rhinos
Elpasorhinos logo.jpg
City El Paso, Texas
League WSHL
Division Midwest
Founded 2006
Home arena El Paso County Coliseum
Colors Orange, Black, Gray, White
                   
General manager Canada Cory Herman
Head coach Canada Cory Herman
Media America One
Website www.elpasorhinos.com
Franchise history
2006 – Present El Paso Rhinos
Championships
Division Championships 2013-14, 2012-13, 2011-12, 2010–11, 2008–09, 2007–08, 2006–07
Playoff championships 2014 UHU National Champions (AAU),
2008 & 2014 Thorne Cup Champions,
2011 USA Hockey Jr National Silver Medalist

The El Paso Rhinos are a Amateur Athletic Union sanctioned junior ice hockey team, based in El Paso, Texas. The Rhinos compete as part of the Midwest Division of the Western States Hockey League (WSHL). Their home games are played at the Sierra Providence Events Center located within the El Paso County Coliseum complex.

Team History[edit]

In 2006, retired former El Paso Buzzards professional hockey player Cory Herman founded the El Paso Rhinos. The Buzzards had ceased operations in 2003 and Herman wanted to bring ice hockey back to the city of El Paso. The franchise’s first season in the WSHL (a USA Hockey sanctioned Tier III Junior B league) was successful and were made it to the 2007 Thorne Cup Championship. The lost to the Phoenix Polar Bears but by placing second in the playoffs they qualified for the Tier III Junior B National Championship Tournament. After the conclusion of the 2006–07 season, Commissioner Ron White announced the approval of Tier III Junior A status for the WSHL.

In the 2007–08 season, the Rhino's finished first in the overall standings with only 1 loss in regulation. Rhinos player Marcus Wilhite turned in a 46 goal, 109 point season to lead the Mid-West Division of the WSHL in scoring. El Paso’s early success attracted higher-level talent and the team acquired players like Anthony Paulsen, who led his previous league in scoring among all defenseman, scoring 6 goals and 18 assists in 38 MJHL games. The Rhinos faced off against the Phoenix Polar Bears in the WSHL championship after sweeping the Tulsa Rampage for the Mid-West Division Champion title. The Rhinos defeated the Polar Bears and won the 2008 Thorne Cup before moving on their first Tier III Junior A Nationals as the WSHL champion.

The Rhinos won 11 straight games to start the 2008–09 season before losing 5-6 to the Tulsa Rampage. El Paso became the Mid-West Division Champions for the third time in three years, beating the San Antonio Diablos, by scores of 6-3 and 9-3, to sweep the Diablos in the Mid-West Division Finals. However, the Rhinos would be lose the 2009 Thorne Cup Championship by being swept by the Phoenix Polar Bears. By being the runner-up in the Thorne Cup Finals, the Rhinos would represent the WSHL at the Tier III Junior A Hockey Nationals for a second time in Marlboro, Massachusetts along with the Polar Bears. During the 2008–09 season, the El Paso Rhinos would adopt Tatenda, an actual rhino in Africa, as a mascot. Though the rhino was not physically moved to America, the organization continues to donate to the organization to cover Tatenda’s food and upkeep expenses.

The 2009–10 season was another successful year with the Rhinos finishing first in the Mid-West and tied for first in the WSHL in the regular season. However, the team would lose in the playoffs to the Boulder Bison and not qualify for the national tournament. In June 2010, the franchise opened the El Paso Rhinos Training Center, a hockey specific gym that contains state of the art equipment. The new training facility led to numerous players signing with the Rhinos for the 2010–11 season.

The 2010–11 season led to another first place regular season finish in the Mid-West and Mid-West Conference Playoff Championship win over the Boulder Bison. The Rhinos would lose the 2011 Thorne Cup Championship to the Idaho Jr. Steelheads without winning a game. The Rhinos would again represent the WSHL in the national tournament in Minnesota. The Rhinos’ first game ended in a tie with the Granite City Lumberjacks, the second was a win over the Northern Cyclones, and the third game was a win over the Chicago Hitmen. El Paso's 2-0-1 record earned a spot in the Tier III Junior A Finals round. Goaltender Trent Casper led the Rhinos to a 2-1 win over the Idaho Jr. Steelheads in the semifinal before losing to the Helena Bighorns in the national championship game.

Prior to the 2011–12 season the WSHL would join the United Hockey Union (UHU) and become sanctioned by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) instead of USA Hockey leading to some teams leaving the league and the addition of others. The 2011–12 season was another regular season first place finish in the Midwest Conference and a Midwest Conference Playoff Championship. The Rhinos defeated the New Mexico Renegades 2 games to 1 in the division semifinals and defeated the Dallas Ice Jets 2 games to 1. With three conferences in the WSHL for this season, the playoff winners and runner-ups moved on the Thorne Cup Championship for a 2-game round robin style series held in the Rhinos' home arena in El Paso. The Rhinos lost to the Idaho Jr. Steelheads before defeating the Fresno Monsters to for an 1-1-0 record. The Dallas Ice Jets and Idaho Jr. Steelheads would both finish the round robin with two wins leaving the Rhinos out of the championship game.

For 2012–13 season, El Paso was moved to the Mountain Conference for one season after an influx of midwestern teams. Regardless of new opponents, the Rhinos still finished the regular season in first place in the conference. The Rhinos would run through the Mountain Conference Playoffs without losing a game to the Phoenix Knights and the Boulder Bison. In the Thorne Cup Championship round robin, the Rhinos would defeat the Bay Area Seals 6-3 and the Fresno Monsters 8-3. However, the Rhinos would lose the semifinal game to the Seals by a score of 7-2.[1] By the end of the 2012–13 season, the Rhinos had broken franchise attendance records for most sold out crowds in one season, largest crowd in a season, and overall total attendance for the year.

In 2013–14, the Rhinos earned a 44-2-0 record, good for another first place regular season finish, now in the Midwest Division, and first in points in the WSHL.[2] The Rhinos would win their second Thorne Cup Championship and post an undefeated playoff record of 9-0-0 defeating the Idaho Jr. Steelheads (4-2 in game 1 of round robin and 7-3 in the Thorne Cup Championship game), the Phoenix Knights (5-3 in game 2 of round robin and 4-3 in Thorne Cup Semifinals), the Texas Jr. Brahmas (2 games to 1 in Conference Finals and 9-3 in game 3 of round robin), and the Dallas Snipers (2 games to 1 in Conference Semifinals). Goalie Bryce Fink would be named Thorne Cup MVP after earning six of the wins.

After the Thorne Cup Championship, the Rhinos traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada to represent the WSHL in the second UHU National Championship tournament. In the first game, the Rhinos would defeat the Jersey Shore Wildcats of the Northern States Hockey League by a score of 3-1.[3] In the second game, the Rhinos once again faced the Steelheads and took the game through overtime before losing in the shootout for a final score of 2-3.[4] The Rhinos would defeat the Soo Firehawks of the Midwest Junior Hockey League by a score of 8-3 in game three of the round robin.[5] The Rhinos' record of 2-0-1 qualified them for the semifinals where they once again defeated the Firehawks by a score or 12-2 leading to a Thorne Cup Championship rematch with the Steelheads.[6] The Rhinos met the Steelheads for the third time in three weeks coming away with a 6-3 win for El Paso and their first National Championship Title.[7] Similar to the Thorne Cup Championship, Bryce Fink would also be named tournament MVP.

Statistics[edit]

Season by season records[edit]

Season GP W L OTL PTS GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
2006–07 47 40 6 1 81 312 146 1516 1st of 5 Mid-West
2nd of 13 WSHL
Won Div. Semifinals, 2-0 vs. San Antonio Diablos
Won Div. Finals, 2-0 vs. Tulsa Rampage
Lost Thorne Cup Championship, 0-2 vs. Phoenix Polar Bears
2007–08 51 48 1 2 98 350 112 1164 1st of 6 Mid-West
1st of 11 WSHL
Won Div. Semifinals, 2-0 vs. Colorado Outlaws
Won Div. Finals, 2-0 vs. Tulsa Rampage
Won Thorne Cup Championship, 2-0 vs. Phoenix Polar Bears
2008–09 49 45 3 1 91 320 89 1109 1st of 6 Mid-West
1st of 11 WSHL
Won Div. Semifinals, 2-0 vs. Colorado Outlaws
Won Div. Finals, 2-0 vs. San Antonio Diablos
Lost Thorne Cup Championship, 0-2 vs. Phoenix Polar Bears
2009–10 52 47 5 0 94 313 92 1140 1st of 5 Mid-West
1st of 13 WSHL
Won Div. Semifinals, 2-0 vs. San Antonio Diablos
Lost Div. Finals, 1-2 vs. Boulder Bison
2010–11 46 33 11 2 68 243 137 1st of 5 Mid-West
3rd of 13 WSHL
Won Conf. Semifinals, 2-0 vs. Tulsa Rampage
Won Conf. Finals, 2-0 vs. Boulder Bison
Lost Thone Cup Finals, 0-2 vs. Idaho Jr. Steelheads
2011–12 46 35 9 2 72 274 134 1034 1st of 5 Midwest
3rd of 13 WSHL
Won Conf. Semifinals, 2-1 vs. New Mexico Renegades
Won Conf. Finals, 2-0 vs. Dallas Ice Jets
1-2-0 in Thorne Cup Round Robin (1-2 vs. Ice Jets; 6-9 vs. Jr. Steelheads; 3-2 vs. Monsters)
2012–13 46 36 8 2 74 290 119 1428 1st of 6 Mountain
3rd of 22 WSHL
Won Conf. Semifinals, 2-0 vs. Phoenix Knights
Won Conf. Finals, 2-0 vs. Boulder Bison
2-0-0 in Thorne Cup Round Robin (6-3 vs. Seals; 8-3 vs. Monsters)
Lost Thorne Cup Semifinal game, 2-7 vs. Bay Area Seals
2013–14 46 44 2 0 88 374 83 1305 1st of 6 Midwest
1st of 24 WSHL
Won Conf. Semifinals, 2-0 vs. Dallas Snipers
Won Conf. Finals, 2-0 vs. Texas Jr. Brahmas
3-0-0 in Thorne Cup Round Robin (4-2 vs. Jr. Steelheads; 5-3 vs. Knights; 9-3 vs. Jr. Brahmas)
Won Thorne Cup Semifinal game, 4-3 vs. Phoenix Knights
Won Thorne Cup Championship Game, 7-3 vs. Idaho Jr. Steelheads
2014–15 46 41 5 0 82 279 95 1219 1st of 6 Midwest
2nd of 28 WSHL
Won Div Semifinals, 2-0 vs. Dallas Snipers
Won Div. Finals, 2-1 vs. Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers
Won Conf. Finals, 2-0 vs. Ogden Mustangs
Lost Thorne Cup Championship series, 1-3 vs. Idaho Jr. Steelheads

Tier III Junior B National Championship Tournament[edit]

In the 2006–07 season, the Rhinos and the WSHL were sanctioned as Tier III Junior B by USA Hockey. Tier III Junior B included teams from the Central States Hockey League (CSHL), Empire Junior Hockey League (EmJHL), Metropolitan Junior Hockey League (MetJHL), Minnesota Junior Hockey League (MnJHL), and the Northern Pacific Hockey League (NorPac). The top two teams from each Junior B league advanced to the National Championship tournament separated into three divisions consisting of four teams each to play in a round robin style. The four teams with best overall records after round robin play would move on to the finals.

Year Round Robin Record
Ranking
Semi-final Game Championship Game
2007[8] L, St. Louis Jr. Blues (CSHL) 2-4
W, Boston Junior Bruins (EmJHL) 6-2
L, Suffolk PAL (MetJHL) 2-6
1-2-0
3rd of 4
Did not qualify Did not qualify

Tier III Junior A National Championship Tournament[edit]

Starting in 2007–08 season, the Rhinos and the WSHL were sanctioned as Tier III Junior A by USA Hockey. Tier III Junior A included the Atlantic Junior Hockey League (AtJHL), Central States Hockey League (CSHL/NA3HL), Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL), Minnesota Junior Hockey League (MnJHL), and the Northern Pacific Hockey League (NorPac). The top two teams from each Junior A league advanced to the National Championship tournament separated into three divisions consisting of four teams each to play in a round robin style. The four teams with best overall records after round robin play would move on to the finals.

Year Round Robin Record
Ranking
Semi-final Game Championship Game
2008[9] L, New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (EJHL) 4-11
W, Minnesota Owls (MnJHL) 5-4
W, Dubuque Thunderbirds (CSHL) 3-1
2-1-0
2nd of 4
Did not qualify Did not qualify
2009[10] L, New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (EJHL) 2-7
L, Helena Bighorns (NorPac) 3-4
T, New York Bobcats (AtJHL) 2-2
0-2-1
3rd of 4
Did not qualify Did not qualify
2011[11] T, Granite City Lumberjacks (MnJHL) 4-4
W, Northern Cyclones (AtJHL) 6-5
W, Chicago Hitmen (NA3HL) 7-1
2-0-1
1st of 4
W, Idaho Jr. Steelheads (WSHL) 2-1 L, Helena Bighorns (NorPac) 1-5

United Hockey Union National Championship Tournament[edit]

AAU Sanctioned Junior A National Championship
In 2013 and 2014, the MWJHL, NSHL, and WSHL advanced two teams each to the tournament.

Year Round Robin Record
Ranking
Semi-final Game Championship Game
2014 W, Jersey Shore Wildcats (NSHL) 3-1
SOL, Idaho Jr. Steelheads (WSHL) 2-3
W, Soo Firehawks (MWJHL) 8-3
2-0-1
3rd of 6
W, Soo Firehawks (MWJHL) 12-2 W, Idaho Jr. Steelheads (WSHL) 6-3
National Champions

Roster[edit]

Updated October 5, 2014.[12]

Forwards
# Player Pos. Shoots Height Weight Place of Birth
9 United States Jesse Esposito F R 6' 0" 185 lbs. Gilbert, Arizona, USA
10 Switzerland Dominique Pozzi F L 5' 9" 170 lbs. Zurich, Switzerland
11 Latvia Reinis Vitolins F L 6' 0" 170 lbs. Riga, Latvia
12 United States Bryton Tomko F R 6' 0" 185 lbs. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
14 Switzerland Tim Odermatt F L 5' 10 180 lbs Zug, Switzerland
15 United States Lukas Znosko F L 5' 10" 180 lbs. Stamford, Connecticut, USA
17 Sweden Sebastian Borg RW L 5' 10" 190 lbs. Stockholm, Sweden
19 Czech Republic Marek Langhammer F R 6' 2" 190 lbs. Trutnov, Czech Republic
20 United States Kendal Craig F L 5' 11" 190 lbs. Amarillo, Texas, USA
21 Czech Republic David Bures F L 6' 2" 195 lbs. Prague, Czech Republic
22 United States Gavin Abbott RW L 6' 3" 190 lbs. Binghamton, New York, USA
24 Czech Republic Jiri Pestuka F R 6' 0" 185 lbs. Prostejov, Czech Republic
25 United States Koler Kanistanaux F L 6' 0" 195 lbs. Whitefish, Montana, USA
Defensemen
# Player Pos. Shoots Height Weight Place of Birth
2 United States Adam Zimmerman D 5' 11" 190 lbs. Gilbert, Arizona, USA
3 United States Eliot Herz D R 6' 2" 180 lbs. Eagle River, Alaska, USA
4 United States Angel Sanca D R 6' 0" 220 lbs. Norwich, Connecticut, USA
5 United States Gabriel Goodroe D R 6' 0" 200 lbs. El Paso, Texas, USA
6 United States Liam Millar D R 6' 0" 200 lbs. Durango, Colorado, USA
7 Canada Felix Loiselle D L 6' 2" 215 lbs. Montreal, Quebec, Canada
8 Czech Republic David Brancik D L 6' 3" 210 lbs. Prostejov, Czech Republic
Goaltenders
# Player Pos. Catches Height Weight Place of Birth
1 Hungary Adam Vay G L 6' 6" 220 lbs. Budapest, Hungary

Community Outreach[edit]

The Rhinos frequently wear specialized jerseys on the ice and auction them off to help raise funds for local and/or charitable causes. They have raised money for causes including, but not limited to: Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Special Olympics, and local youth hockey. The Rhinos also receive strong mutual support from U.S. Military stationed at nearby Fort Bliss. The Rhinos not only host Military Appreciation nights, but they also give free admission (courtesy of a local sponsor) to all Military personnel and their families. The Rhinos also host Adoption Days with the Humane Society of El Paso and the Animal Rescue League of El Paso, so that members of the El Paso community can adopt pets into loving homes.

Tatenda[edit]

Coach Herman was approached by Karrie Kern the CEO of the U.S. Branch of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, after seeing the team's bus in San Antonio, TX. During their conversation she told him the story of an orphaned rhinoceros in Zimbabwe named Tatenda, and jokingly suggested the team adopt her as their mascot. The Rhinos organization thought this was a great idea and so in November 2008 the team adopted Tatenda.[13]

Skate Mates Educational Program[edit]

As a way to give back to El Paso, Lori Briggs, the former figure skating director at the El Paso County Coliseum, created the Rhinos mentoring program five years ago. Every school year since then, the Rhinos organization has sent players to Crosby Elementary School where they become interactive role models to the students.This year, under the title, “Skate Mates,” the community education effort will be expanded to more schools. Groups of players will be assigned schools that they will visit weekly. They will work closely with students on specific subjects and encourage them to excel inside and outside of the classroom.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "WSHL 2013 Playoffs Scoreboard". WSHL. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  2. ^ "2013–14 WSHL regular season standings". WSHL. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  3. ^ "2014 UHU Championships Day 1". Junior Hockey News. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  4. ^ "2014 UHU Championships Day 2". Junior Hockey News. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  5. ^ "2014 UHU Championships Day 3". Junior Hockey News. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  6. ^ "2014 UHU Championships Day 4". Junior Hockey News. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  7. ^ "El Paso wins 2014 UHU National Championship". Junior Hockey News. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  8. ^ "El Paso Rhinos 2007 Jr B Schedule". Pointstreaks. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  9. ^ "El Paso Rhinos 2008 Jr A Schedule". Pointstreaks. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  10. ^ "El Paso Rhinos 2009 Jr A Schedule". Pointstreaks. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  11. ^ "El Paso Rhinos 2011 Jr A Schedule". Pointstreaks. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  12. ^ "El Paso Rhinos Roster". Pointstreak/WSHL. Retrieved 2014-09-28. 
  13. ^ El Paso Rhinos: Tatenda, retrieved 2013-06-18 

External links[edit]