After winning both a Thorne Cup and United Hockey Union National Championship in his first year of North American hockey, El Paso Rhinos defenseman Kalvis Ozols is headed back overseas to play professionally in France for the Mont –Blanc Yeti.
The big Latvian left his home country to join the San Diego Gulls for the 2013-2014 season and quickly flourished as the focal point of their offense. In just 23 games with the team, Ozols notched 31 points (14 goals and 17 assists) a number that could have been much higher if he hadn’t missed over a month with a skull fracture and other injuries stemming from a dangerous hit in the last game of the Western States Shootout in Las Vegas.
Ozols recovered quickly and returned better than ever but with San Diego well out of the playoff picture, Craig Carlyle dealt him and forwards Eric Baldwin and Drew DePalma to El Paso, helping the Gulls acquire assets for the future, while giving the trio of veterans a chance to compete for a championship.
On a Rhinos team stacked with talent, Ozols continued to put up points and quickly became one of Cory Herman’s go-to defensemen, in both shutdown and goal scoring situations. In 15 regular season games in Rhinos orange, Ozols amassed an astounding 26 points (7 goals and 19 assists), which made him the top scoring defenseman in the entire league during the 2013-2014 regular season, with 57 total points.
The 6’6” 205-pound pillar of strength was even better in the playoffs, notching 10 points in eight games to help lead the Rhinos to a Thorne Cup Title, before adding another six points in five games at the United Hockey Union National Championships in Las Vegas, which also ended with the Rhinos on top.
Playing with the Yeti in the 14-team Division I league, Ozols will now be getting paid for his abilities and could easily work his way up to Ligue Magnes, the top league in all of France.
The WSHL joins the El Paso Rhinos in wishing Kalvis the best of luck in the professional ranks!