Five Rhino alumni have decided to return to the Sun City to play for the University of Texas at El Paso. Although this is the Miners Hockey Club's inaugural season, it looks promising with the amount of talent on the roster. Scroll down to read more about Jan Dam, Alek Lazarski, Jeramy Rezaeepour, Lukas Znosko, and Patrick Gleason.
Jan Dam is back and ready to suit up to play hockey for the UTEP Miners. Dam was with the El Paso Rhinos during the 2012-2013 season and was a hard-hitting defender. The Miners will need Jam’s type of tenacity on the ice for their team when the season begins.
Dam has been no stranger to Rhino Country after his last year of junior hockey in the Sun City. “Ever since I stopped playing for the Rhinos I’ve kept myself busy in El Paso by coaching youth teams for the El Paso Rhinos. I also enrolled at EPCC, but will be transferring to UTEP in order to play,” said Dam.
It’s easy to conclude that Dam’s 2012-2013 season with the Rhinos was a success. Dam was able to score 28 total points, with 25 of them being assists.
Although Jan has yet to play collegiate hockey, he expects that there will be significant differences from junior hockey. “I feel like hockey at the college-level will be a bit more strategic, and although there will still be plenty of hard-hitting, junior hockey was still a bit more physical,” mentioned Dam.
Alek Lazarski will be playing hockey for the UTEP Miners in 2015. The 5’9’’ 165lb goal-tender played for the El Paso Rhinos last season and was a key player to the team during their playoff run. Acquired late into the season, Alek only played four games but his contribution in the post-season carried the Rhinos to the Thorne Cup finals.
After a short time in the Sun City, Lazarski made it clear that he wanted to stay in El Paso to continue to play hockey. “I think what really influenced me to stay was the connection I had with my teammates on-and-off the ice,” said Lazarski. This bond coupled with the opportunity to play hockey while receiving an education made UTEP hockey a significant contender in Lazarski’s post-junior hockey plans.
Although his journey in collegiate hockey is just at the beginning, Lazarski knows that even after college, he always wants to be involved in the sport. “I still have some time to think about the future, but wherever I end up, I want to definitely stay involved in hockey. Whether it’s a coach, player, or staff member I will always have a passion for the game,” stated Lazarski.
Jeramy Rezaeepour is yet another former El Paso Rhino who will be joining the UTEP Hockey Club this year.
A talented forward, Rezaeepour made a tremendous contribution to the Rhinos offense for two seasons. He managed to put up 17 goals on the season in 2013-2014. Jeramy was also a playmaker, racking up 17 assists to put him at a total of 34 points throughout the season. At AAU Nationals, Rezaeepour impressively scored three goals in four games played.
After aiding the Rhinos in earning their first national championship title, the Wisconsin forward returned to the Sun City late in the 2014-2015 season. Nonetheless, his offensive expertise was significant in the Rhinos’ post season run. After posting three goals in nine regular season games, Rezaeepour tallied three goals and three assists in the playoffs.
El Paso Rhinos’ forward Lukas Znosko has accepted the opportunity to play for UTEP this year. Znosko was an impact player for the Rhinos during the ’14-’15 season, and will now look forward to improving his game with UTEP.
During his time with the Rhinos, Znosko was able to rack up 12 goals and 24 assists for a total of 36 points in the regular season. Lukas was also a big contributor in the playoffs, scoring two goals inside a total of seven points. Describing his style of play as fast and gritty, the forward enjoys physicality in the corners. Overall, however, he aims to be a team player that adds value in any situation. “I feel like my all-around game on the ice will definitely help the Miners this season. My main goal is to contribute in any way possible to help our team win,” said Znosko.
The location and organization that surround the UTEP Hockey Club helped Znosko make his decision to return to the Sun City. “I chose UTEP because of the great education it offers along with the opportunity to be back in El Paso and playing at the Events Center.” Just like many other northerners, Lukas enjoys El Paso’s climate too. “Coming from Connecticut, it’s a long way from home but I know the weather is much better in El Paso during the winters!”
Patrick Gleason has decided to take his talents to UTEP after playing with the El Paso Rhinos for the 2014-2015 season.
Despite suffering a knee injury during the 2014-2015 season, the 5’10 180 lbs. defenseman was a vocal leader both on-and-off the ice. “One thing that I’m known for is my leadership. I just always try to get my teammates inspired and pumped-up before the game.”
Although he only totaled 79 penalty minutes in his career as a Rhino, Patrick is a defensive defenseman that won’t hesitate to drop the gloves. His playing style is modeled after his cousin, Tim Gleason, who last played for the Washington Capitals. “He is strong, smart, a great defensemen and good fighter. I try to play my game just like him,” Gleason explains.
After two seasons with the Rhinos, the Michigan D-man’s decision to return was partly influenced by UTEP’s coaching staff. “I was really excited to hear that Tom (Herman) was going to be the head coach. That was a big reason why I chose UTEP,” said Gleason. The other reason was, of course, the passionate support of the fans of hockey in the Sun City. “I love El Paso especially because of the awesome support and energy the fans brought to every game during my time as a Rhino. El Paso is now a place I can call home.”
To keep up with the Rhinos during the season, visit www.minershockey.com.