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Brett Ritchie's Turnaround Year

After a bumpy ride and a trade, Ritchie soared in 2011-12

Friday, 08.3.2012 / 11:55 AM CT / Feature
By Mark Stepneski
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Brett Ritchie\'s Turnaround Year

Dallas Stars prospect Brett Ritchie’s 2011-12 season started off well enough. He had one goal and two assists as the Sarnia Sting won its season opener and was named the third star of the game. After that it was a bumpy ride the next couple months due to injuries, and then things turned around.

“Sometimes change is good,” said Ritchie.

Change came in the way of a trade within the Ontario Hockey League that sent Ritchie from Sarnia to the Niagara IceDogs, one of the top teams in the league.

After the trade, the right wing was a point-a-game guy for the IceDogs. He registered 30 points (16 goals, 14 assists) and had a plus-27 rating in 30 games as Niagara finished first in the Eastern Conference and tied for the second most points in the OHL.

“I loved it there. It was just the perfect fit,” Ritchie said. “It’s always easier to play with better guys. When you are winning a lot of games you have a lot of confidence. I found that it’s a lot easier to play and a lot more fun when you are winning games and doing well.”

Niagara, which also acquired Stars defense prospect Jamie Oleksiak in a separate deal, made a great run in the playoffs, advancing to the OHL Finals, where it lost to the London Knights. Ritchie picked up 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in 20 playoff games.

“When he ended up getting traded to Niagara he took that as a blessing,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “He got an opportunity, a new start and he embraced it. He played really well.”

It was a glimpse of the potential of Ritchie, a second round pick (44th overall) in 2011. He offered another glimpse of that potential at the Stars’ recent development camp in Frisco, where he was among the players who stood out and showed a lot of growth over the past year.

“He’s got all the tools to be a really good player,” said Jackson. “He’s a big man who can skate, handle the puck and has a good shot.”

The Stars have seen a lot of progress over the past year in Ritchie, who is right-handed and is listed at 6-3, 190 pounds.

“From last year to this year he’s probably made the most gains,” said J.J. McQueen, Dallas Stars Player Development Coordinator. “He was injured a bit at the beginning of the year but he came back from the injury and he’s gotten bigger, stronger and quicker.”

Ritchie was projected as a power forward when the Stars drafted him last summer, and that’s the role he plays in junior hockey.

“I am a big power forward, good skater,” said Ritchie. “I’ve become a lot better skater over the years, way better agility than I used to have. I think I have a good two-way game, good at both ends of the ice. I can use my size to my advantage pretty well.”

The Stars and Ritchie both expect another year of progress. The 19-year-old is expected to play with Niagara again this season.

“He’ll go back to junior and I am sure he’ll play a big role with Niagara this year, be one of their go-to players,” said Jackson. “He keeps getting better. He just has to play and keep improving. He has a fantastic base. It will be interesting to see how he grows and matures through this season.”

Ritchie also has his eyes on playing for Canada at the World Junior Championship. He took part in Canada’s summer development camp last August. Canada isn’t holding a camp this summer and will be taking part in a series of games against Russia instead. Ritchie isn’t on the roster for that series, so that means the start of his season will be key.

“It’s a goal for me,” Ritchie said. “I’ve got to prove it to those guys, and make that team.”

The Stars signed Ritchie to a three-year entry level contract at the end of development camp. Even though the plan is for him to return to juniors this season, he still has loftier goals. He earned an invitation to Stars training camp last season, and hopes to make the most of the opportunity this time around.

“You always have the attitude of trying to make the team. If you don’t have that attitude you are never going to succeed,” he said. “If I get sent back to junior, Niagara is a great spot. I had a great time last year. I want to make sure I am a leader on that team and I want to be one of the best players on the ice every night.”




1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70


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J. Spezza 13 5 8 0 13
C. Eakin 13 1 7 -4 8
A. Goligoski 13 4 3 -6 7
P. Sharp 13 4 2 -4 6
P. Eaves 9 3 3 3 6
R. Faksa 13 3 2 2 5
M. Janmark 12 2 3 -3 5
C. Sceviour 11 2 3 1 5
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