Tendered: Nick Justice

The Rhinos’ first tender for the 2020-21 NAHL team is Nick Justice. Here’s more about the Michigan defenseman.

As a kid, Nick Justice spent a lot of time at the rink watching his older brother play hockey. He started skating early on in his childhood, and by the time he was five, he was playing the sport. Now a senior at Stevenson High School in Livonia, Michigan, Nick hopes to continue his hockey career at the NCAA Division I level. His next step on that journey will be playing with the El Paso Rhinos in the NAHL for the 2020-21 season.

Until his coach had mentioned that the Rhinos were a new team in the NAHL, he hadn’t heard about the Rhinos. Shortly thereafter, he received a call from Associate Head Coach Vinny Bohn and continued conversations with Alec Sherman, a former Rhino who is now a Mid-West scout for the team. “They told me that the community is close, fans are involved, and that there’s a good show at the games.” He was mainly intrigued by El Paso’s status as the newest team in the League. “I wanted to come into a new team. Everyone is new and you get to play with new people. It’s fun to develop with everyone else.”

The El Paso staff was impressed by Justice’s style of play. He describes himself as a two-way defenseman that can change his game to be more or less defensive when necessary. “I take PRIDE in shutting down their best player.” Bohn emphasized the offensive factor as well, “Nick’s offensive upside and his puck management skills really stood out to us.” Sherman agreed, “We like his ability to move the puck and how he controls the pace of the game. He can slow it down when needed and speed it up at the snap of a finger.” Bohn continued, “Getting to know Nick through our recruiting process really made us excited about his character, his dedication to off-ice training and his leadership role on his high school team. He’s coming from a great program at Livonia-Stevenson playing under coach David Mitchell there. We’re very excited for Nick to be part of this next step in Rhino Country and to make that step to the NAHL with us next year.”

Throughout COVID, like many other players, he has focused on hockey and school. He makes it a point to shoot pucks and work out every day. Although his high school team recently started practicing and has yet to play their first game, Nick has been able to play with a tournament team. Last weekend, they won one and lost two, but he was proud of the way the team played.

Ten Things with Tender Nick Justice

1. Career path beside hockey? Personal Trainer

Nick’s passion for fitness has allowed him to consider pursuing a career as a personal trainer. “Working out makes me feel better and I can do things more efficiently. Things are easier the better shape you’re in.” Because working out has had such a positive impact in his life, he wants to help others learn how to stay healthy and active as well.

2. What skills would you like to learn that would make a great personal trainer? How to be a good teacher

He recognizes that being a personal trainer also means being a good teacher, so he hopes to learn how to better instruct others in fitness practices.

3. Favorite team? And player you model your game after? Colorado Avalanche, Cale Makar

His favorite team is the Colorado Avalanche, in part, because he likes their jerseys and their color scheme.

The Avs’ Cale Makar is the defenseman that Nick would like his game to imitate. “I enjoy watching him play. He’s a new generation defenseman and he’s changing the game.” He explains that Makar chooses to play more offensively instead of adopting a traditional stay-at-home defensemen role. “He’s seeing the puck and moving the puck and doing things that most d-men can’t.”

4. What motivates you to work hard? Other people

“I like to do things for other people before myself.” He wants others to be able to rely on him and recognize him as person who works hard.

5. Last movie or tv show you saw? Money Heist [on Netflix]

“It’s my new favorite show.”

6. Karaoke song choice? “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey

7. Hobbies aside from hockey? Staying active

Nick enjoys working out, playing video games—specifically NHL 21, hanging out with friends, and trying new things. He stays active and hates being bored.

8. If you could only wear one brand of clothing for the rest of your life, what brand would it be? Nike

9. What would you do if you won the lottery? Help close family, donate to charity, and invest

Nick said he’d share money with close family to help them pay bills and overcome any financial struggles, and he’d donate to charity. Then he explained, “I’d buy a nice car—an old car. But I don’t know which one. And I’d get my dad an old car too. He’s a car guy.” After buying cars and a house, he’d save the rest of the money and make small purchases over time. He’d invest some of it too.

10. Favorite fast food chain? And what do you eat there? Qdoba burrito

He admits that he really doesn’t eat fast food. The last time he did, it was McDonald’s, but he really didn’t care for it. He asked, “Do you count Qdoba as fast food?” He gets a burrito with rice, beans, tofu, veggies, queso (maybe), pico, guac and lettuce. Nick also explained that, since August, he has become vegetarian. After his dad saw a movie about eating no meat, they both decided to try it.

According to NAHL.com, “A tender is a contract, of sorts, a player signs announcing his intentions to play for that particular NAHL team and that NAHL team only. Once a player signs a tender with an NAHL team, his playing rights belong to that team within the NAHL and he may not be recruited by any other NAHL team. Each team is granted ten (10) tenders – plus or minus any trades – which become active on Nov. 1. Tendered players are not eligible for the NAHL draft.”