El Paso Rhinos look to become four-time Thorne Cup Champions in Utah


Isaiah Ramirez, Sports Editor

The El Paso Rhinos are coming off exceptional performances in the Western States Hockey League divisional playoffs and are now back-to-back and 10-time division champions. Now the bigger task is at hand and the Rhinos are looking to become back-to-back and four-time Thorne Cup Champions. The Thorne Cup Finals begin Tuesday in Ogden, Utah with a matchup against the Oklahoma City Blazers in the first game of the round-robin formatted finals.

After finishing with a regular season record of 40-8-3, the Rhinos finished first in the Mid-Western Division and secured home-ice advantage in the division semifinals.

In the second round of the playoffs, the Rhinos swept the Dallas Snipers scoring 14 times over the two-game series. Forward Eimantas Noreika scored four goals in the 11-0  game one win of the series, while forward Dillon Manchester scored twice in the 3-0 game two win.

In the division finals the Rhinos swept the Blazers in two games after losing to the Blazers three times in the regular season. Game one of the series was a physical and intense battle as the Rhinos went up with a goal by forward Dillon Manchester in the first period. In the middle of the third period the Rhinos found themselves down 2-1 but forward Oliver Stenson tied the matchup up forcing overtime. In overtime at the 15:27 mark forward Ty Erramouspe scored the game winning goal.

The Rhinos would go on to win game two of the series with a 6-0 shutout win with five different Rhino’s scoring defensivemen Eric Easterson, JC Dubecky, Dominic Erdt, and forwards Max Kamper, and Oliwer Stenson. Stenson would have two goals in game two for the Rhinos.

Goalie Nills Velm finished the game with 16 saves for the Rhinos.

The round-robin formatted playoffs will have the Rhinos match up against the Blazers, Long Beach Bombers, and the Ogden Mustangs.

Last season the Rhinos defeated the Mustangs 3-2 in the Thorne Cup Championship and will look to stay focused and bring home the glory once again.

“Do things the right way, don’t take shortcuts, try to limit mistakes, and remain teachable,” said Rhino forward Max Kamper.

If the Rhinos are one of the top four teams after round-robin play, they will advance to the semifinal on Friday. A win on Friday would secure their spot in the Championship game on Saturday.

Game one of the Thorne Cup Finals will take place at 11 a.m. April 9, game two will be at 3 p.m. April 10, and game three will be at 7:30 p.m. April 11.

The games will be live streamed on Black Dog Hockey at bdehockey.com