The Daily Illini

Richter finding his speed for men’s hockey

Drew+Richter+skates+back+to+Illinois%27+zone+as+McKendree+gains+possession+of+the+puck+at+the+Ice+Arena+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+13th.+Illinois+beat+McKendree+4-2.
Drew Richter skates back to Illinois' zone as McKendree gains possession of the puck at the Ice Arena on Friday, Oct. 13th. Illinois beat McKendree 4-2.

Drew Richter skates back to Illinois' zone as McKendree gains possession of the puck at the Ice Arena on Friday, Oct. 13th. Illinois beat McKendree 4-2.

Elisabeth Neely

Elisabeth Neely

Drew Richter skates back to Illinois' zone as McKendree gains possession of the puck at the Ice Arena on Friday, Oct. 13th. Illinois beat McKendree 4-2.

By Brian Binz, Staff Writer

One year ago, he was out of hockey.

This year, Drew Richter is leading the Illinois men’s hockey team in goals.

Is it surprising? Not to coach Nick Fabbrini.

“I knew coming in that with his speed and with his shot he could be a real weapon, especially on our ice,” Fabbrini said.

Last year, Richter was cut from the Chicago Cougars team in the United States Premiere Hockey League, but that did not set him back for long. He immediately got in touch with Fabbrini and found himself a spot on the Illini.

In his year off, Richter worked a job and waited for his chance to come to the University, and after 24 games, Richter has tallied 12 goals, with two goals last weekend against Iowa State putting him ahead of senior forward Eric Cruickshank.

Cruickshank had been the Illini’s leading goal scorer each of the past two years and was the second leading scorer his freshman year. However, he’s not panicking over the change of the guard at the top of the stat sheet.

“It’s nice to be able to have [scoring] spread out across the lineup,” Cruickshank said. “It’s a big difference from the other teams that we’ve had in the past.”

The new-found depth has led the Illini to a 17-7-0-2 record, with seven players with seven or more goals.

Richter may have overtaken Cruickshank, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t taken notes from the veteran center.

“I’ve been able to look up to him,” Richter said. “Obviously he’d been the leading goal scorer for the past few years, it’s easy to emulate his game.”

He hasn’t just learned from his elders on the ice. Richter, who spent the last three years in junior hockey leagues, has had to learn from Cruickshank and fellow third line senior Grant Stueve.

“They showed me the way, on and off the ice,” Richter said. “Whether it’s hanging around at the apartment, or getting it done on the ice.”

The one thing about Richter that everyone said helps him get it done on the ice is his speed, especially on the Illini’s bigger rink. However, even on the road his speed is a problem for other teams and has helped him make an impact on that third line.

“He’s one of the fastest guys in the league,” Cruickshank said. “He’s gotten used to the way the league is, and you can see not only by his play, but also by his numbers.”

Richter knows he’s got an advantage on the wings, even if he doesn’t do it enough.

“Sometimes I try and stickhandle, which doesn’t work as well as skating,” Richter said.

Richter knows there’s more goals to be had, so don’t be surprised if he continues at this pace.

Nobody in the Illini locker room will be.

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