Colorado Rubber

Colorado’s and Utah’s Authoritative Voice of Ice and Inline Hockey

Hyland Hills, Rampage, RoughRiders alum Gutierrez enjoying first junior season with NA3HL’s Rhinos


Joseph Gutierrez was looking for the right fit to play junior hockey this season.

He found all that he was searching for with the NA3HL’s El Paso Rhinos.

“In 2022, I received a camp invite from the Rhinos coach and at the camp, they held an event for St. Baldrick and I participated by shaving my head for the charity,” said Gutierrez, born in Albuquerque, N.M., now living in Arvada. “In 2023, I was chosen in the NA3 draft by Coach (Ed) Fritz. While I had offers with other teams, I chose to play in El Paso because of the people and the atmosphere. The fans are amazing and really create the ideal place to play.”

Being away from home has been another positive for Gutierrez.

“I have enjoyed living away from home,” Gutierrez said. “I miss my family sometimes, but I like hanging out with my billet brothers, Jaden and Brady, and I have no problem helping my billet parents, Molly and Ben, out with stuff around the house. El Paso is not the most exciting city, but with daily practices, team functions and work, there isn’t a lot of free time.”

Back in Colorado, Gutierrez played for the Hyland Hills Jaguars from his second year of Squirts through Bantam, then 15 Only with the Colorado Rampage and 16U and 18U with the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders. He also said coaches CJ Yoder, Doug Smail and Tyson Davis stand out as positive influences during his youth hockey days.

“I idolized CJ since I first met him at a roller hockey tournament,” said Gutierrez. “Fast forward a few years later and he is my coach for roller hockey and then ice coach when I played for the Rampage. We were also teammates for a season when I played on the Thunder. He’s just an awesome guy and I enjoy laughing with him. Doug Smail taught me how to work hard and that nothing is ever given, but always earned. He was a tough coach, but I respect him and appreciate him for never letting me take the easy route.”

As far as memories go in Colorado, Gutierrez said those are plentiful.

“We had a tourney in Prince George, B.C., and we couldn’t afford to fly so we took a road trip,” remembered Gutierrez. “Coach Tyson (Davis) said it was a beautiful drive. We stopped a few times along the way, but the last stop was in Calgary. When we left the next day, it was a seven-hour drive to Prince George, but it was winter and with avalanche clearing and blizzard snow, the drive took almost 18 hours.  Longest car ride ever. We arrived just in time to get to the game, and I ended up scoring a hat trick that game. We laugh to this day that Tyson is correct, it is a beautiful drive, but should be taken in July not December. 

“Winning the state championship with the RoughRiders my final year of 18U is another memory. It was a rough season with a lot of unknowns and doubt, but the boys and I rallied together to end the season on a high note.”

Gutierrez said it was a simple situation in how he got started playing hockey, but that since that time, he’s been motivated to stay on the ice as long as possible.

“I brought home a Skate City flyer from school when I was in second grade and my parents signed me up to play roller hockey even though I had never skated before,” said Gutierrez. “I fell in love with the game, and with the help of my dad, I quickly learned how to skate and play hockey. When I was nine, I decided I wanted to try ice hockey and I joined a rec-level team for the New Mexico Ice Wolves where I played one year before moving to Colorado and joining the Hyland Hills Jaguars. I still play roller hockey in the summer and during season breaks, but my main focus has been on ice hockey for the past several years.

“Hockey has been a huge part of my life since I was nine. It is just a part of who I am. I am motivated by the constant grind and high expectations that come with it. My parents and my sisters have sacrificed so much to allow me the privilege of playing. I always strive to do my best.”

Moving ahead, Gutierrez said he wants to finish this season averaging better than a point per game. His long-term goal is to play college hockey, ice and roller. On the school side, Gutierrez is hoping to study law and/or criminal justice.

Photo/Michelle Carrasco

— Matt Mackinder

(February 20, 2024)

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