Quick Look: El Paso Rhinos

by Manny Brizuela

The El Paso Rhinos didn’t have very many lows in 2017-2018. They won the Mid-Western Division on the back of a staggering 49-1-1 record. Even more impressive, they were the only team in the league who stayed under triple digits in the goals against column (405-63).

“I give a lot of credit to the team for working so hard and we were really focused on putting on a full 60-minutes for the last game of the year,” Assistant Coach Vinny Bohn said. “The group last year was very special and we are trying to build off that.”

Assistant Coach Bohn expects his group to learn from the successes of last year, particularly his key returners that worked the grind all year to encapsulate a team first mentality.

“As a group I think every team wants to win a championship but our guys are thinking about being one percent better every single day and again always just focusing on the team first. Doing things our way.”   

“We have a good core coming back that’s for sure,” Bohn said. “The Rhinos were always a blue collar group and we want to come in and play every minute every game—Just outwork anyone that comes in our way.”

Of the players that were a part of the special group last year the first one that comes to mind is goaltender Kayden Pickles. The netminder from Medicine Hate, Alberta only played in 10 regular season games and owned a .930 save percentage. None were as dramatic and carried the implications of his four post-season games. Pickles went in as a back up and carried his team to hoist the Thorne Cup.

(Mark Mauno Photo)

Forward Donald Alchin (10-21-31 Reg.) returns after registering 3 goals and 4 assists during playoffs in his first year with the Rhinos. Alchin lit the lamp twice in Game 2 of the Mid-Western Division semi-finals versus the Dallas Snipers. 

 Forward Alex Stalzer is also a remnant from last year’s scoring and brings back 21 goals and 26 assists to his name. Assistant Coach Bohn mentioned that the coaching staff is looking for him and teammate Max Kamper (27-28-55) to pave the way in scoring.    

A part of what made El Paso successful was the all around contribution not just by the forwards. J.C. Dubecky (18-58-76) quarterbacked many of the opportunities from the blue line and proved to be a reliable point producing D-man

Fans can expect the Rhinos to be a similar group with a similar team mentality. The ultimate goal for the Rhinos will be in trying to repeat their championship season. The Idaho Jr. Steelheads were the last team to be back-to-back Thorne Cup champs doing so in 2014-2015/2015-2016.

“Our biggest thing is we want to develop young players but definitely better men off the ice with the amount of community service we do and working with youth hockey in El Paso,” Bohn said.