The Rhinos are excited to announce that they have hired Billy Sullivan from the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights as the new Director of Player Personnel! In his new position, Sullivan will oversee scouting, recruiting and player support. “El Paso is a great city,” he said. “It has a fantastic fan base that shakes the barn. There’s a coaching staff that has a plan to develop the players, which I believe in. The Rhinos are now in one of the premier leagues in the world for developing NCAA commitments.”
Unlike most ice hockey players, Sullivan’s hockey start came through ball hockey. Also known as floor hockey, ball hockey is a variation of the sport of ice hockey and a specific variation of the game of street hockey. “I was lucky enough that ball hockey helped me translate to the ice,” Sullivan explained. His youth ball hockey career in Pittsburgh led him to Midget AAA ice hockey before playing NCAA ice hockey at Franklin Pierce University.
Since 2016, Sullivan has worked for the OHL’s London Knights as the US Scout and recruiter. “Throughout the past five seasons with the Knights, I’ve been learning our great game from some of its best minds—Mark and Dale Hunter and Rob Simpson, and many others.”
Rhino Associate Head Coaches, Vinny and Anthony Bohn, believe that hockey knowledge is exactly what makes him a great fit for the Rhinos’ franchise. “In Billy, we have a guy that knows his player pool. With his vast knowledge and contacts, he will be an asset to our organization, top and bottom,” Anthony Bohn noted. Vinny Bohn agreed, saying, “He bought into the idea of building an NAHL team from scratch. We’re excited to have someone with his hockey experience on our staff.”
While Sullivan’s hockey sense is a great asset, his flexibility and openness are arguably just as essential to putting together a good roster. “I’d be lying if I said I had a philosophy on scouting in particular, aside from, ‘Be open to new things.’ I’m looking for all kinds of players. There are plenty of roles to fill in hockey. I like different kinds of forwards, defensemen and goaltenders. It’s also a matter of what I believe the player’s ceiling could be if he develops certain parts of his game.”
Hockey IQ and good skating ability top Sullivan’s player wish list, but above all, players that really catch his eye have a winning mentality. “We want a player who isn’t scared, but confident; a player who likes to make plays; a player who takes pride in a good first pass; a player who wants to finish his check into the fifth row; a player who will eat a puck in an exhibition game if it means getting a ‘W.’”
As much as Sullivan has particular facets of a game he analyzes, he admits that much of recruiting is gut instinct. “Evaluating hockey isn’t black and white,” he explains. “It’s almost nothing but grey. All you can do is take in as much information as you can, be it through your own eyes, contacts, video, analytics, ideas, chance—whatever mode the information gets to you—and accept it. But at the end of the day, it’s about how you ‘feel’ about a player in a particular situation.”
The Pennsylvania native is excited and grateful for the opportunity to impact hockey in the Borderland. “I joined El Paso to help us win. It’s going to be fun, and stressful, to essentially build a team from scratch. I can’t thank Mr. Herman, Mr. Heon, Mr. Bohn enough for entrusting me with this task and providing all of us with the tools we need to succeed. I’m looking forward to working with the whole Rhino staff to find the best players and provide the fans in El Paso the best on-ice product they’ve ever had down here.”