Coming off both a Thorne Cup and United Hockey Union National Championship, while amassing a combined record 57-2-1, the El Paso Rhinos continue to make it clear they are not just one of the top organizations in the WSHL but in all of junior hockey. Their play on the ice speaks for itself but Cory Herman and Co. have also had another busy off-season of moving players on to the collegiate ranks and forward Tom Bartel has given them a league-best seven NCAA Division III commitments, announcing he will play at Hamline University in the fall.
One of the most underrated players in the league, Bartel had a busy first year in El Paso, where he finished seventh on the team in the regular season with 66 points, with his 50 assists also good enough for third. The 5’11” 160 pounder was also at his best during the post-season and had a big hand in both Rhinos championships, notching six points in nine Thorne Cup playoff contests and seven in five games played at the UHU National tournament in Las Vegas.
Herman had this to say about Bartel, who was one of his prize recruits coming out of training camp “Tom has a great work ethic on and off the ice” Herman continued, “His greatest asset is his speed; he was one of the fastest players in our league last year.”
Bartel will return to his home state of Minnesota and play under first-year head coach Cory Laylin at Hamline, who is looking to get things turned around after a tough 2013-2014 season for the Pipers. Making things even more interesting, Bartel will face-off against a handful of his former Rhinos teammates (Chris Wilhite, Chad Cesarz, Austin Hoff and Drew DePalma) when Hamline faces the Cardinals of St. Mary’s University in February.