Andrew Duff

Jul 6, 2013

Andrew Duff

What years were you with the Rhinos?
I was with the Rhinos for two years, from 2008 to 2010.

How did you become a Rhino?
Like many of us who became Rhinos I came here thanks to Trevor Converse.  I was at the Topeka Roadrunners camp and at the end of the weekend, Trevor approached me and gave me all the information about the team and sold me within 20 minutes.  I went home and spoke to my parents about it researched the team and the rest is history.

Go back to when you were here. Describe the season or seasons in which you were here, how you felt, and what you experienced.

Both seasons I spent in El Paso were an amazing experience.  My first season was a lot of fun and one of the best teams I’ve ever played with and overall just a phenomenal mixture of guys.  Whenever you have guys like Bill Krueger and Josh Deloach in the same locker room you know it’s always going to be a fun time.  That was also an interesting season for me, spending some of that season with the Topeka Roadrunners, but returned to my home in EP.  We eventually ended up losing the Thorne Cup that year to the Phoenix Polar Bears in a tough series.  My second season and team was still an amazing experience but also a very different experience from the first one.  I ended up having a rough knee injury in the second week of the season and spent 2 months doing physical therapy trying to get back and join my team.  We faced a good amount of adversity that season and the team as a whole never gave up and fought for every point.  That season’s team was a tough one.  Unfortunately losing to Boulder in the Midwest Finals was a rough way to end it.  All things considering my two seasons in El Paso, I had the privilege of playing with the best team I’ve been a part of, with the best guys around me, and the best coaches of I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing for.
What is your most memorable moment as a Rhino?

I had many great moments in El Paso, from winning a Midwest championship and playing for the Thorne Cup, to a cross country bus trip to Boston for Nationals, and every time I got to play hockey with the best group of guys.  Ultimately when I look back at the numerous memorable moments the one that sticks out personally the most for me was being able to come back from a serious injury and break the shutout record set by Artie Hollinger, my first year goalie partner and also my favorite goalie I’ve gotten to play with in my career.  It was a great moment to have the honor to break a record set by one of the best goalies in Rhino history and one of my best friends from playing in El Paso.  This was just a very special moment for me after everything I had to battle through that season.

What is one funny story about your time as a Rhino?

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of funny stories is anytime Josh Deloach decided to tell a story in the locker room.  Looking back at the times I laughed the most though, it would have to be a collection of stories involving anytime former assistant captain Bill Krueger and Murray Bates interacted.  Murray may be about 120 years old but that old man doesn’t back down from anything. He and Bill would chirp back and forth every single day (all in good fun of course), and I just remember always laughing so hard when Murray would come into the locker room without even saying a word, round the corner and throw any object he could find directly at Krueger.

Looking back, what do you miss the most?

I miss everything about playing hockey for the Rhinos.  I miss the city, the team, and most importantly the fans.  Outside of high school I have never played in front of such loyal and devoted fans, it was really something special to get to play in front of them every weekend.  What we were able to experience playing for the Rhinos is just something special and a time I will never forget and always cherish.

Did you continue to play after your time with the Rhinos? And if so, where? Did you receive any awards?
After El Paso I moved on to play for Eastern Michigan University (after being committed to play for UMASS Boston, and losing that commitment in a weird turn of events).  I came to an Eastern Michigan team in a serious rebuilding process.  We had a new coach and 16 rookie players my freshman year.  The first two years were a struggle there with such a young team.  This past year, with the help of some good incoming freshman and a solid veteran core, we were able to put together the best season the team has had in almost 8 years, and made it into the top 20 rankings for the first time since 2005.  Going into my senior year, I have been honored with being one of our four captains.

Is there anyone you that still keep in touch with in El Paso?
I still keep in contact with many people in El Paso and many teammates I’ve played with there as well.  I like to keep in contact with Murray Bates the most since I’ve left, that old man was a big part of my time in El Paso and continues to be someone I look at with immense respect.  On top of that I also keep in contact with many fans I had the pleasure of meeting along the way. With a fan base like that, it’s hard not to stay in contact with people who cared so much for us while we were there.

What is one last thing would like to go back and do one last time as a Rhino?

That answer is simple. If I could go back and do anything one last time I would love to go through the game day routine of morning skate hang with the boys before the game and play one last game in front of the packed house full of the rhinos fans.