Parker native, Cherry Creek graduate Pent finds junior hockey opportunity with NA3HL’s Rhinos
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Payne Pent wasn’t sure of his hockey options once he finished up his senior season with Cherry Creek High School in 2020-21, but the NA3HL’s El Paso Rhinos see him as a prospect to make some noise for the team next season.
In the NA3HL Entry Draft, which was held April 28, Pent was chosen by the Rhinos in the first round (29th overall).
“I was in contact with El Paso before the draft and then they contacted me after the draft,” said Pent, a Parker native. “I think what stands out the most to me about El Paso is the recent acquisition of a North American Hockey League team. I think that I can develop in their system and try one day to play in the NA.”
A Cherry Creek teammate of Pent’s, Riley Hunt-Bahn, has also signed with El Paso and the two figure to be linemates once again in 2021-22
“I think the main thing I want to focus on is working on my speed and playing more physical,” Pent said. “I had other Tier III offers but felt El Paso is a place I can hopefully develop into a Tier II hockey player.”
Pent said he started playing hockey when he was five years old.
“My dad’s passion of hockey was huge, and he wanted me to continue,” Pent said. “The Avs played a role in my love for hockey with going to the games and being family friends with the Hejduk’s.”
Growing up, Pent played for the Arapahoe Warriors until his 14U year with coach Tim Shay and Sean Leonard, then moved to the Colorado Evolution with coaches Sergei Bautin and Pete Cardasis. After Evolution, Pent went to the Colorado Springs Tigers for his 15U and 16U years with coach Kevin Holmstrom, and then played for Cherry Creek under coach Jeff Mielnicki in 2020-21.
“This season was very fun as a senior,” said Pent. “Even though we didn’t get spectators throughout parts of the year, the environment I was around with Cherry Creek was unreal.”
Looking ahead, Pent knows he has the potential to take the game of hockey to higher levels.
“My goals with hockey and school are to eventually one day play Tier II hockey and ultimately play at the collegiate level, either Division I or Division III.”
— Matt Mackinder
(June 3, 2021)