El Paso Rhinos Officially Announce Move to NA3HL and NAHL
The wait is over for El Paso Rhinos fans. Today, the club announced that they will be playing hockey as a member of the North American 3 Hockey League. They will begin their 2020-21 campaign with training camp in September and the regular season schedule beginning in October. The Rhinos will play in the South Division of the NA3HL. The following season, the Rhinos will have teams competing in both the NA3HL and the NAHL.
"The players in the NAHL are future NHL draft picks and Division I college hockey players," Rhinos head coach Cory Herman said in the official team release. "It’s very exciting for our program to have that level of hockey in El Paso."
Although the NA3HL is Junior A Tier 3 hockey, fans will see a level of play that is close to the Western States Hockey League. The NAHL is the highest level of Junior A Tier 2 hockey in the US, with many of its former players landing Division 1 scholarships and 30 have been selected in the NHL Draft. "I think the passionate fans of the El Paso Rhinos will enjoy the brand of hockey the NA3HL will bring and also the new rivalries that will be established,” NA3HL Commissioner Blake MacNicol said in the release. The Rhinos will become the NA3HL's 32nd team for the 2020-21 season and they will play in the South Division.
Today's announcement is huge for the Rhinos and their junior hockey program's development. By the fall of next year, Coach Herman will have double the roster to move players between both his main club playing in the NAHL and his developmental team competing in the NA3HL. When you add the UTEP hockey club to the mix, fans will have three different teams to follow as well as attend home games at the Events Center. It also means that the quality of competition at the NAHL level will be much higher than previous years. El Paso Buzzards fans will recognize many of the cities playing in the NAHL South Division, including Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Albuquerque, Odessa, and Shreveport. All five had teams in the old Western Professional Hockey League.