Following in the footsteps of teammates Drew DePalma and Chris Wilhite, El Paso Rhinos forward Austin Hoff has committed to play his college hockey at St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota.
The imposing forward, who measures out at 6’4” 205 pounds, first came to the Rhinos prior to the 2012-2013 season, after spending most of the previous year in the Tier II North American Hockey League with the Minot Minotauros. Appearing in 26 regular season games in his first year in El Paso, Hoff notched 21 points (10 goals and 11 assists) while also bringing a physical presence to the Rhinos lineup. The Lake Stevens, Washington, native was even better in the playoffs, where he seems to take his game to another level, notching seven points in six games and helping the Rhinos to a Mountain Division title.
After the successful campaign in El Paso, Hoff got another crack at the NAHL, as he began the 2013-2014 season with the expansion Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees. After recording five points in 24 games, he returned to the Rhinos just before the roster movement deadline and made the most of his second stint in town. Playing on one of the most offensive teams in WSHL history, Hoff didn’t look out of place for a second, amassing nine points in eight regular season games, before picking up another 10 in seven Thorne Cup playoff appearances, en route to the Rhinos first league title since 2008. He didn’t stop there however, as the Rhinos continued on to the United Hockey Union National Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada, two weeks later and Hoff averaged a point a game over five outings, while helping El Paso to a national championship.
Hoff is now off to St. Mary’s to play under head coach Bill Moore, who has coached dozens of Rhinos alumni over the years, having long been a WSHL supporter and constant presence at league events, like the annual Western States Shootout.
Rhinos bench boss Cory Herman had this to say about his third player to commit to play for the Cardinals this off-season, “Austin is a menacing presence that also brings a ton of skill to the lineup.” Herman continued, “He was a huge part of our playoff run and will certainly benefit from playing with guys he knows, like Drew (DePalma) and Chris (Wilhite.) He thrives in all situations and playing under Bill Moore will only make him more versatile.”
The WSHL joins Herman and the entire Rhinos organization in wishing Austin the best of luck at St. Mary’s!