THE THORNE CUP CHAMPIONSHIP COMES TO EL PASO
With the 2011- 2012 season off to a good start, the franchise received great news: the Rhinos had received the bid to host the Thorne Cup Championship. Seemingly in celebration, the Rhinos scored a whopping 40 goals in the three game series following the announcement.
After weathering a tough set of games at the mid-season WSHL showcase, the Rhinos were eager to get back to their winning ways. El Paso posted incredible numbers during the second half of the 2011- 2012 season, until the series just before the playoffs. The Rhinos lost the first two games to the Dallas Ice Jets but salvaged the last game to win 6-2.
Regardless, the Rhinos headed into playoffs with enough confidence to win the first series against the New Mexico Renegades. They were then forced to settle the score with the Dallas Ice Jets for the division title. Scoring eight points in best of three series, the Rhinos had secured their place in the Thorne Cup Championship playoffs.
El Paso and Dallas met again later in the playoffs but the second time around did not produce the same outcome. The Ice Jets captured two wins immediately and claimed their spot in the Thorne Cup Championship game. Avoiding ending the season with a loss, the Rhinos earned a victory over the Fresno Monsters for third place.
Although the season had a successful ending, the 2012-2013 team would be without crucial point scorers in goaltender Trent Caspar, ranked eleventh in the league in goals against average, and Trey Hughes, who finished tied for twenty-first in league scoring. Hughes signed with the Twin City Steel, a Minnesotan team in the North American Tier III Hockey League. Kyle Stephens left El Paso to attend Minot University where his team won the American College Hockey Association Men’s Division I Championship.