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07/08/2013 11:14 AM -
What years were you with the Rhinos?
I was with the Rhinos for three years, ’06-’07, ’07-’08, and ’08-’09.
How did you become a Rhino?
I was at a tryout camp for the Santa Fe Roadrunners who were in the NAHL and I was one of the last players cut from the team and I spoke with Trevor Converse at the camp. After speaking to him, I had numerous conversations with Coach Herman and I decided that El Paso would be the best fit for me.
Go back to when you were here. Describe the season or seasons in which you were here, how you felt, and what you experienced.
My first season in El Paso happened to be the inaugural season for the organization so it was really exciting. I was an 18 year old playing my first year of junior hockey so I was naturally intimidated as well as being so far away from home. We had a lot of success for a new team in the league. We won our division and got to go to the national tourney in Grand Rapids, MI. My second season was even better. We had an amazing team full of talent. I was an alternate captain that year and had the privilege to play on a line with Willy (Marcus Wilhite) and Billy Krueger (White line- the boys will know what that means). As a tea, we ripped through every team that we played that year with an amazing record of 56-2-2. We won our division, the league, and took a second trip to natty’s where we played our first game against New Hampshire, who was one of the best teams we ever played against. At that tournament, even though we didn’t advance into the semis, we beat Dubuque which was a huge stepping stone for the organization. My last and final year in El Paso I was the team captain and I was flanked by Billy and Austin Balko. We had a lot of success again as a team winning our division for the third year in a row and taking a third consecutive trip to nationals. Personally, I had a milestone year as well by surpassing Willy and becoming the team’s all-time leading scorer. The year after I left Austin Balko broke my record.
What is your most memorable moment as a Rhino?
Hands down my most memorable moment as a Rhino came in my second year when we swept the Phoenix Polar Bears to win the Thorne Cup. We all got rings for that and I still have mine and I know all the boys that were on that team still have theirs and show them off proudly!
What is one funny story about your time as a Rhino?
There are two funny stories that have to do with Marcus Wilhite and they both took place in my 1991 Ford Escort (The Red Dragon). After practice one day Willy and I went to go get some food at Whataburger. He got a sandwich we were pulling out of the drive thru and started driving home when Willy started coughing really bad because he was trying to eat and dance or something and he was not at good multi-tasking. I thought it was funny and when he finally stopped choking he punched me in the arm and called me a few choice words because he said he could have died but he was just being dramatic. Another time Willy and I were driving in my car down Mesa Street looking for a place to get some Halloween costumes. Some lady cut me off so I started laying on my horn and punched it a little too hard and got my horn stuck. We drove around town for about 15 minutes while my horn was constantly going off and we finally had to pull into a mechanic shop and have a guy crawl under the car and unplug the horn
Looking back, what do you miss the most?
I miss everything about being a Rhino. From playing for Coach Herman, to going to schools to speak to kid, to interacting with the fans all the time. We were treated like professionals not only by the coaching staff but as well as the game day staff, rink staff, the fans, as well as the entire community and it is an amazing feeling.
Did you continue to play after your time with the Rhinos? And if so, where? Did you receive any awards?
After my time with the Rhinos I played two seasons at MSOE (Milwaukee School of Engineering). I had a lot of success there and we were a top ranked team in the nation both my freshman and sophomore year. My freshman year I was nominated for first team all-conference. After my sophomore year I decided that the school was not the right fit for me and I decided to transfer to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and joined other former Rhino’s Austin Balko, Nick Gualano, and Andrew Ketterer. I finished my college hockey career at Saint Mary’s this past year and even my junior year was a bit of a struggle my senior year was better and I have high hopes for those boys this coming season.
Is there anyone you that still keep in touch with in El Paso?
I still keep in touch with Coach Herman a lot I talk to him about once every other week. I also keep in touch with Soundguy and I used to be able to talk to a lot more of the fans and off ice officials but I got rid of facebook about a year ago (sorry guys). Occasionally Murray Bates will grace me with a text message as well.
Where are you and what do you do now?
This past season I finished college hockey at Saint Mary’s and I moved back to Omaha for the summer where I am constantly on the ice and training to prepare myself to be able to play professional hockey next season. I am getting tremendous help from Coach Herman as I am trying to fulfill my dream to continue to play hockey at the professional level.
What is one last thing would like to go back and do one last time as a Rhino?
I would like to go back and win the national tournament. I thought when I was there we had the teams to do it but it never happened for us.