AROUND THE LEAGUE: El Paso Rhinos helping Hispanic families embrace hockey

by Andrew Heliotis

Games against Mexico's national team spotlight sport's growth in community

Joel and Maria De Los Reyes and their three children arrived two hours early for Sunday's game between the El Paso Rhinos and Mexico's national Under-20 team, sticking to what's become a family ritual.

"We want to make sure we get our spot at the glass behind the goal," Joel De Los Reyes said.

Ramon Tejada brought his usual accoutrements to the game: an air siren, a cowbell a vuvuzela and matratas, noise-making contraptions that he makes out of broken hockey sticks - - all to annoy the opposing team.

"When they're huddled up because they can't hear the coach, I love it," said Tejada, whose season-ticket seats are perched directly above the opposing team's bench. "That means I've done my job."

El Paso, a border city that's nearly 82 percent Hispanic, has embraced hockey, highlighting a growing interest in the sport by people of color.

Rhinos general manager Corey Heon estimates that more than 90 percent of attendees to Rhinos games and 95 percent of the team's youth hockey program are Hispanic.