The El Paso Association and the El Paso Rhinos welcome former Rhino Lukas Znosko as the new head coach of the Rhinos’ 14U NAPHL team!
In early April, the El Paso Hockey Association and the Rhinos announced that they would add a 14U NAPHL team to the organization. The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) is comprised of three Divisions: Tier I, Showcase (Tier II), and Prep (High School). The Rhinos’ team will play in the Showcase division for the 2021-22 season and will attend three showcase events: Blaine, MN, Detroit, MI, and Frisco, TX.
At the helm of the new team is Stamford, CT native, Lukas Znosko who played for the Rhinos in 2014-15. “It was, hands down, the best year of hockey I’ve had both on and off the ice,” Znosko remembers. “From the way the organization is run, to the fans, the atmosphere and the history of winning, it’s second to none.” After his junior career ended, he played for the UTEP Hockey club for two seasons before moving to Poland to play for Zaglebie Sosnowiec.
He has since moved back to El Paso and is excited to give back to the local hockey community. “The game of hockey has done a lot for me in terms of getting to see the world. It’s helped me develop as a person. Now, I want to be able to help kids learn and enjoy the game well.”
The NAPHL has established itself, over the past 12 years, as a premier grounds for development and exposure. This past season, a record number 55 players from the NAPHL were tendered to play in the NAHL for the 2020-2021 season. Additionally, a remarkable 120 NAPHL players played in the NAHL this past season. Znosko recognizes the significance of being part of the league and USA Hockey, “The NAPHL is an unbelievable system for development. Being under the umbrella of USA Hockey gives the coaching staff a wide range of tools to develop players on the ice.” He knows that the 14U level is extremely important in any hockey player’s career. “At this level, I think it’s really important that players develop and master the basics. Being able to solidify passing, shooting, and first and foremost, skating, will hugely impact the way they play in a team setting. It will also make the transition from 14U to 16U to whatever level they wish to reach more seamless.”
As a first-time coach, the 27-year-old is ready to transition from player to coach. He hopes to take what he has learned in his career and pass it on to a new generation of players. “I want the kids to learn a lot both on and off the ice and become better players as well as better people.”
While he has a few months until the season starts in August, he’s eager to get going. “I’m extremely excited to be given this opportunity to work with the NAPHL, the El Paso Rhinos and the El Paso Hockey Association. It’s good to be back home!”