Weekend Preview 2/24-2/25 vs. El Paso Rhinos

Odessa Jackalopes (22-19-1-1, 46pts) vs. El Paso Rhinos (12-28-3, 27pts)

Location: El Paso County Events Center in El Paso, TX

Time: Friday 8:00 p.m. CDT | Saturday 8:00 p.m. CDT

Broadcast: (Away) HockeyTV | Listen Live Here


What You Need to Know:

All-Time Record: 8-4

Season Series: 3-1

Leading Scorers:

ODA: 41pts, Mansfield (15G, 26A)

ELP: 19pts, Tolan (11G, 8A)


Production Value:

El Paso has scored the fewest goals in the South and the second-fewest in the NAHL (79). Only once in their last six games, the Rhinos have registered more than one goal. El Paso averages 1.84 goals-per game which is the second-fewest in the league. Odessa is coming off a win over Lone Star in which they scored a season-high in goals (8). The Jackalopes have scored the opening goal of a game 24 times this season (15-7-1-1). As for the Rhinos, they have scored the opening goal 13 times (8-4-1) this season which is the fewest in the league. Odessa averages exactly 3.00 goals-per game which ranks them 15th in the NAHL. El Paso has scored the least number of goals in the opening period (19), whereas Odessa has scored the third most (52).


Both teams enter this weekend in the top three in penalty minutes in the South. The Jackalopes have 799 and the Rhinos have 757. The most recent game for Odessa saw them give up three power-play goals, but they also scored three on the powerplay. That was the first time all season that they scored more than one power-play goal in a game. Both these teams have registered 17 goals while on the man advantage, the second-fewest number in the league. However, Odessa’s powerplay has slowly moved up the standings as they are now ranked 25th with a success rate of 13.8%. The Rhinos are tied for last at 12.1%. Both teams have been shorthanded 162 times this season however Odessa is ranked 17th (80.9%) and El Paso is ranked 20th (79.6%) on the penalty kill.

Familiar Faces:

This weekend there will be players on either side of the ice with ties to the opposition. For the Rhinos, they acquired Odessa Jackalope defenseman, Nate Boak, at the trade deadline. Boak played 93 games (2G, 22A) in a Jackalopes jersey from 2020-23. As for Odessa, Blake Arneson played 20 games (1G, 2A) for the Rhinos last season. Also, Cameron Dunn played five games (1A) for El Paso this season before joining Odessa. The biggest storyline though will be a matchup between two brothers. Camden Bajzer is a rookie forward for the Rhinos and his older brother, Tanyon Bajzer, is a forward for the Jackalopes. They have played on the same team growing up, but this will be the first time the two brothers from Cleveland, OH take this ice against one another.



Jackalopes (F: #27 – Justin Hughes)

The Montvale, NJ native is in his final year of junior eligibility. The 6’4”/170lb. right-handed forward spent his rookie season with Odessa last year. Hughes played in 58 games for Odessa and finished 11th in points (9G, 14A). The 20-year-old currently has three goals and seven assists through 27 games. Also, he is on a two-game goal streak. Hughes has played in two games against El Paso this season and has produced a goal and an assist. Before reaching the NAHL, Hughes spent a total of four years (70GP, 32G, 49A) playing for St. Joseph High (USHS-NJ).

Rhinos (F: #17 – Frank Tafelski)

The Troy, MI native is in his second season in the NAHL. He started his rookie season last year playing 26 games (5G, 10A) for the Rhinos. The 6’0”/180lb. right-handed forward finished out his rookie campaign with the Austin Bruins (21GP, 1G, 2A). The 20-year-old has produced seven goals and six assists in 29 games this season. Tafelski has scored two goals in his last three games. He has played in four games against Odessa and has scored one goal. Before reaching the NAHL, Tafelski spent the 2020-21 season (28GP, 25G, 24A) as the assistant captain for Oakland Jr. Grizzlies (18U AAA). Putting him first on the team in points.


Photo credit: Danne Braden