The latest in a series on some of the top prospects of the Dallas Stars looks at right wing Brett Ritchie, who wrapped up his junior hockey career last season and then finished 2012-13 with the Texas Stars of the AHL.
Ritchie, who turned 20 earlier this month, had a superb final junior season with Niagara of the Ontario Hockey League, registering 76 points (41 goals, 35 assists) in 53 games. His 41 goals ranked sixth in the OHL, even though he missed 15 games due to a variety of reasons, including the World Junior Championship and Dallas Stars training camp.
During one stretch from late October to early December, he scored goals in 16 of 20 games, tallying 26 goals during that stretch. He also scored nine goals over a two-game span.
The right-handed Ritchie, who is listed at 6-4, 215 pounds, is a power forward with a NHL-caliber shot. He attributed his stellar junior season to his work with training guru Gary Roberts in the summer of 2012.
“I felt really good coming into this season and I felt I was due for a big year,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie’s performance with Niagara in the first half of the season landed him a spot on Canada’s roster for the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. Ritchie picked up four points (three goals, one assist) in 6 games for Canada, which failed to medal in the tournament.
“We wanted gold and we didn’t get it, but we learned a lot,” Ritchie said. “Even through losing you sort of come back stronger, learn from the experience. I took a lot from that tournament.”
Shortly after the World Juniors, Ritchie spent some time at Dallas Stars training camp and then headed back to his junior team. The playoffs didn’t go well for Ritchie and Niagara, who were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.
But the season wasn’t over for Ritchie, who headed to Cedar Park to play for the Texas Stars. He made an immediate impact, scoring on the second shift of his professional career. Ritchie ended up with four points (three goals, one assist) in five regular season games for Texas. He scored two goals – including a game-winner in overtime – in nine playoff games.
“He’s a big, strong player. He’s got a great shot. He can cycle low,” said Texas coach Willie Desjardins. “He has a lot of real good attributes to his game, and he’s proved it at a lot of different levels. He fit right in.”
The brief stint with Texas capped off a long, eventful season for Ritchie, who started with junior training camp with Niagara in August and played into May with Texas. In between were trips to Russia for the World Juniors and Frisco for Stars training camp. This coming season will be his first full professional season, and chances are he’ll be back in Cedar Park to start.
“He got a great opportunity to play (with Texas last season). There were nights you could see there was some fatigue and there were some nights you walked away saying, wow, this kid is just scratching the surface of how good he can be,” said Stars assistant GM Les Jackson. “I think that short amount of time there is going to put him in a position where he is going to go back there next year and really have a good season. This is an ultra-talented kid. He’s huge, he can do a lot of things. I am excited about his future.”
Brett Ritchie’s 2012-13 statistics