Hoff Returns

During the 2012-2013 season with the Rhinos, forward Austin Hoff’s offensive capabilities were an integral part of the Rhinos’ success. Averaging just under a point a game during regular season, his post- season play was even more impressive: six goals in seven games.

Having caught the eye of the NAHL’s Rio Grande Killer Bees, his value was affirmed after his assist on the Bee’s first goal of the season. However, soon thereafter, his numbers froze when he entered a scoring slump. In 24 games in Hidalgo, Hoff only had 5 points and -2 rating.

After his last game in Hidalgo in early January, Hoff decided to head back to the tip of Texas to finish out the season. He made it to El Paso in time to suit up for the series against the Wichita Thunder starting on January 30. In Thursday’s and Friday’s games, Hoff earned six points—one more point than the number he earned during his entire stint with Rio Grande. The winger’s first goal notched the team’s league-leading twenty-second shorthanded goal. He went on to collect one more goal and four assists in the Rhinos’ sweep of the Wichita Thunder. His play was summed up in his own words: “It’s easy coming back. It’s like coming home.”

Looking forward, Hoff intends to use valuable knowledge and experience from a higher league. “[The NAHL] was a fast pace and I was in a rough division with lots of hitting. [In El Paso] we have a very fast and physical team”

The winger doesn’t have much time before playoffs, though. With the Thorne Cup just around the corner, Austin’s eagerness for the competitiveness of post-season play is apparent. Knowing the advantage of playing at home, the winger has confidence in his team’s ability to clench the division title as well as that of the Thorne Cup. “There will be thousands of people, we don’t have to travel, we are in our own locker room and we are able to keep the same routines. We are really looking forward to the Thorne and with this team, we can really accomplish it.”