Western States Hockey League

Western States Hockey League: El Paso Rhinos hit their stride, remain undefeated

Western States Hockey League: El Paso Rhinos hit their stride, remain undefeated

By Cody buy cialis Warner

The El Paso Rhinos are a seventh year organization in the Western States Hockey League.

The Rhinos currently sit at 15-0-0 with a strong lead in the Mountain West division. They’ve gotten off to the best start in the WSHL thus far, and as of the morning of Dec. 12, were the only undefeated team in the league. They face the Tulsa Jr. Oilers in the first of three games in three days on Thursday.

Head coach Cory Herman was excited about his team’s great start, pointing to a very obvious early strength for the 2013-14 Rhinos.

“Offense has been the biggest factor in us winning so far,” Herman said. “We have been very fortunate when it comes to putting the puck in the net.”

Western States Hockey League,WSHL,El Paso Rhinos,Cory Herman,USA Junior HockeyEl Paso has netted 60 goals in its last six games, and is averaging better than six goals per game, an unbelievable rate by any standard. They have been led on offense by leading scorers Dakota Beaulieu (16 goals, nine assists), Trey Hughes (11 goals, 13 assists) and Tom Bartel (three goals, 20 assists).

Even with their flawless record to this point, the Rhinos have areas where improvement is needed.

“We need to work on our defensive zone coverage as a team,” Herman said.

The Rhinos are currently sporting an overall team goals against average of 2.00. El Paso is led on defense by Chris Wilhite (six goals, 11 assists) and Jack Strusz (goal, eight assists).

Goaltender Adam Vay has gotten off to a great start along with the rest of his team. The Rhinos have put enough pucks in the net so far and have not forced their goalie to steal games for them, but he has unreal numbers nonetheless. He currently holds a 12-0-0 mark, a league high .940 save percentage, and a 1.70 GAA, which is second in the league as well.

“Vay is our guy in net,” Herman reaffirmed.

El Paso hopes to keep its unbelievable start to the season rolling against their division rivals the Oilers, beginning tonight.

On the horizon, beginning Dec. 17 and ending Dec. 21 is the heavily scouted Western States Shootout in Las Vegas.

 

Read past WSHL articles in our archives: 

Our December 2013 cover feature, “Rising in the West.”

Ontario Avalanche working their way into the race

Phoenix Knights march on to victory early in season

Western States Hockey League: Ontario Avalanche working their way into the race

Western States Hockey League: Ontario Avalanche working their way into the race

By Cody Warner

The Ontario Avalanche are a second-year Western States Hockey League organization in the league’s Pacific Division. The team currently sits third in the division with an 11-6-1 mark. They are in the midst of an active six-game winning streak that began Nov. 8.

Coach Josh Newton recently spoke about what he was looking for from the team, their season-long goals and some of the players the staff hopes to help lead the way.

“We have 15 returning players, so we have a pretty solid core,” Newton said. “We’ve also had some rookies come in and really impress us, including Lubomir Fetkovic, Calle Hallberg and Tyler Hascall.”

The coaching staff looks for these players to continue to bring energy up front. He also was happy with the effort he’s been getting from forward Mike Thomas, who was the team’s third leading scorer last year with 36 points.

Veteran captain Ben Meadows anchors the Avs’ defensive core. Working alongside him is returning player Kevin Leuenberger and first-year man Basil Reynolds.

“Reynolds is the kind of guy we can hope to get some offensive help from when he’s going,” said Newton.

“We have to be better,” he added, bout the overall offensive effort from his D-men.

Western States Hockey League,WSHL,Ontario Avalanche,Josh Newton,Cody Warner,USA Junior HockeyIn net, the Avalanche has a time-share going right now between Chris Skeates and Drake Koegel.

“They’re going to be our guys,” said Newton. “Skeates has greatly improved his work ethic compared to last year. If we can get everyone to buy in on a consistent basis, we’ll get the results we’re looking for.”

The coach stressed a need for an improved work ethic amongst the group as a whole. The coach thinks that if they can get the effort of hard-working guys like Mike Thomas and Luenberger to rub off on some of their teammates, the team will be in good shape.

“Overall, we have to play smart hockey. We want to be able to get to the playoffs and make some noise,” said Newton.

The Avalanche missed the playoffs in their inaugural season by just two points. In any other division in the WSHL, they would have clinched a spot.

“Once you get to the playoffs, it’s a whole new season,” said Newton. “Who knows what could happen?”

After a home game on Friday against the San Diego Gulls, the team has a two-week break from games before a three-match visit with the Lake Tahoe Blue (Dec. 6-8).

 

Read past Western States Hockey League articles in our archives:

Phoenix Knights march on to victory early in season

Davis works quickly to get Dallas Snipers up, running for season

Defense will be point of strength for San Diego Gulls

Western States Hockey League: Phoenix Knights march on to victory early in season

Western States Hockey League: Phoenix Knights march on to victory early in season

By Brian Lester

Tyler Ramsey isn’t surprised that his Phoenix Knights have started strong this season in the Western States Hockey League.

The head coach of the Knights was confident in the players he had brought in and in the players he had coming back this season. Phoenix was 5-1 after six games.

“We have a really good group of players and I thought we did a good job of recruiting,” Ramsey said. “The guys came together right away and played well as a team. They have also worked very hard on and off the ice. We’re happy with how things have started off for us.”

The off-ice work the Knights have put in is a credit to assistant head coach Chris Walker, who played for the Polar Bears when they were the Phoenix team in the WSHL. He is a personal trainer and his background in that area has been key for the Knights.

“Our fitness level is very high and we owe that to Chris,” Ramsey said. “He is one of the top trainers in the area and has worked hard to get the guys in great shape. It’s played a big part in our success.”

Western States Hockey League,WSHL,Phoenix Knights,Tyler Ramsey,USA Junior HockeyPhoenix has been anchored offensively by Jordan Cullum, who scored six goals and tallied five assists in the first six games.

Robert Smith struck for four goals and five assists while Max Mahood and Brynton MacNab have tallied three goals apiece. Three other players scored two goals.

“We have a very balanced attack,” Ramsey said. “All of our lines are very strong and we feel confident in all of them.”

Nick Kujawa has played a key role defensively, having tallied one goal and three assists while Troy Anderson has fashioned a 4-1 record and a goals against average of 2.80. He allowed 14 goals in six games and racked up 160 saves.

While Phoenix is pleased with its strong start, Ramsey expects his team to continue to improve as the year rolls on.

“We have to keep growing as a team,” Ramsey said. “We have a lot of work to do and it’s important for us to stay focused.”

 

Read past Western States Hockey League articles in our archives:

Davis works quickly to get Dallas Snipers up, running for season

Defense will be point of strength for San Diego Gulls

Idaho Steelheads coach reflects on Thorne Cup threepeat

Cheyenne Stampede: Western States League team stays busy preparing for Oct. 18 opener

Cheyenne Stampede: Western States League team stays busy preparing for Oct. 18 opener

Gary Gill believes the foundation for success has been laid for the Cheyenne Stampede.

Well into training camp at this point, and less than a month away from the season, the Stampede are moving forward in their quest to position themselves to be one of the better teams in the Western States Hockey League this season.

“We have put the foundation down, and now we are working on building the house,” said Gill, who is in his first season as the head coach of Cheyenne. “The guys are making progress and doing what they need to in order to be ready for the season. We’re happy with the direction we are going in.”

Cheyenne won’t begin playing until Oct. 18 when it opens the season against the Colorado Jr. Eagles. However, in September, the Stampede did play a pair of exhibition games against Colorado State University.

Gill said several players stood out in those games, including returning players Heath Lantz and Russell Ambruster. He said the games provided his team with a chance to test itself against solid competition.

Both games were close as the Stampede lost 2-1 both times. The second game went into overtime.

“It was a good opportunity to see how we handle game situations as a team,” Gill said. “I thought we had a no-quit attitude in both games. You can practice all you want, but until you get into game situations, you don’t know how guys are going to respond. We did a good job and not only did we see some positives, but we also got an idea of what we need to work on as a team.”

The fact that Cheyenne does not start its season until mid-October is not a concern for Gill. In fact, he is happy his team has extra time to get ready for the year ahead.

“We have more time to get everything set and figure out what is going to work for us and what isn’t going to work,” Gill said. “Everyone is working hard and I’m excited about the potential of this team.”

Having two extra weeks to get ready certainly can’t hurt the Stampede, which is hoping to contend for a league title and playoff berth this season.

“Our guys are very focused because they know what is at stake this season,” Gill said. “We aren’t going to take any team lightly because this is a tough league and you have to show up to play to be successful.”

Western States Hockey League: Davis works quickly to get Dallas Snipers up, running for season

Western States Hockey League: Davis works quickly to get Dallas Snipers up, running for season

Aaron Davis hasn’t had much time to prepare for his first season as the head coach of the Dallas Snipers.

He was brought in at the end of June and has had to work quickly to get the Snipers ready for another season in the Western States Hockey League.

The Snipers will play in Game 1 of the entire WSHL season as the home team against the Wichita Jr. Thunder on Friday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Plano (Texas) StarCenter.

“It’s been a short off-season for me because I was hired at the end of June,” Davis said. “The good thing is we had some very talented players returning and I feel like we brought in a good cast of new players. We feel like we have a good mix of older and younger players and that should help put us in a position to be successful.”

The key to making that happen is getting players with a variety of backgrounds on the same page. Davis expects it to take a little time to get everything situated, but he is confident it will get accomplished.

“It’s tough early on because you have guys from a lot of different places,” Davis said. “But we’re going to work hard to get everyone on the same page, and I think that will be helped by the fact that our players have bought into our system.”

The Snipers won only 15 games last season and compete in the rugged Mid-West Division. The league as a whole is tough and Davis is hoping to see his team compete at a high level night in and night out.

“We know it’s a tough league, but obviously we want to win games and have a chance to compete for a playoff spot,” Davis said. “I want to be able to help my guys become better hockey players and teach them as much as possible about the game. My goal is to help them have an opportunity to get to the next level.”

 

Read past Western States Hockey League articles in our archives:

Defense will be point of strength for San Diego Gulls

Idaho Steelheads coach reflects on Thorne Cup three-peat