3View: El Paso Rhinos | North American Tier III Hockey League | NA3HL
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3View: El Paso Rhinos

August 25, 2023

The 3View series will feature an in-depth look into all NA3HL teams in preparation for the 2023-24 season, with two teams being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 3View goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all the head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2023-24 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2022-23 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 3View will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.

El Paso Rhinos

Head Coach: Eddie Fritz (1st season)

2022-23 Record: 47 GP, 21-21-5, 47 pts. (6th in South Division)

2022-23 Leading Scorer: Payne Pent (42 points)

2023 Playoffs: Did not qualify

2023-24 Division: South

For the first time since joining the NA3HL, the El Paso Rhinos missed making the Fraser Cup playoffs. With a community that backs them and a strong roster heading into the regular season, Eddie Fritz and the Rhinos are ready to turn it back around. Fritz will be entering his first full season as head coach of the Rhinos. He looks forward to the task and wants to succeed for the players, the organization, and the fans.

“First off, we want to get back to the roots of what El Paso hockey truly is. Our fans are extremely passionate about winning, and we want to play a fun brand of hockey that will provide that winning culture they are used to. We are excited about working with a group of young men this coming season who are very driven to achieve not only their personal goals but our goal as a staff and organization which is to win a Fraser Cup,” said Fritz.

Along with the aspiration to win the ultimate prize, Fritz and his staff have a goal to advance their players to the next level. “Our biggest goal first and foremost is to get our 20-year-old players ready for college and help them earn that commitment. There is nothing better than seeing a player achieve a lifelong goal like that and that is our mission is to be a small part of the journey.”

The Rhinos organization has thrived in West Texas since its inception in the 2006-07 season. The NA3HL welcomed El Paso in the 2020-21 campaign, the NAHL team joining a season later. With an NA3HL and NAHL team under the same roof, the Rhinos offer a unique opportunity for advancement.

“Our locker room is 10 steps away from the NAHL locker room, and growth within the organization is obviously our ideal path. Our players committing themselves to the way we want to play throughout will be a huge part of our organizational success,” said Fritz.

While last season did not go as planned for El Paso, this season, Fritz expects that the returning players will not only help lead a change on the ice but also lead in the locker room.

Fritz spoke on their returning netminder Philip O’Neill. “Philip’s back after really taking the reigns last season toward the end of the year. He has had a great summer and gives the players in front of him the confidence they need to take some risks, but also is a great human. His presence in the locker room really gives players a will to win, and is the type of guy players want to play in front of and sacrifice for.”

The Rhinos also bring back important pieces in Zachary Ware and Bryan Wood. “(Ware) is electric to watch when he plays his game, and will certainly be a great catch for any college next year. Wood will be a gigantic part of our culture this year, providing our back end with not only leadership but that heavy style of play our team is known for,” said Fritz.

Outside of the returners, there is a lot of excitement surrounding the new group of players arriving to play in a Rhinos sweater. Robert Provost will be bringing some veteran presence to the roster and Joseph Gutierrez will be looked towards to provide offensive production.

“Koltan Plant is a young forward who is extremely committed and has true Rhino Character, and once he fills out he will be a threat at the Tier 2 level. Rocco Romita is a big addition out of Illinois who will bring a physical and extremely competitive presence to our lineup.”

El Paso’s new lineup will be put to the test in their season opener against the New Mexico Ice Wolves on September 30th.

Next Up: Gillette Wild

 
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