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Illini of the Week: Andrew Richter

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Freshman Drew Richter helped the Illini to an 8-0 start to the season with two wins over the McKendree Bearcats over the weekend. The forward scored two goals on Saturday, giving the team a 2-1 lead in the first period. The Illini won 6-1. Head coach Nick Fabbrini said Richter may be the fastest player on the team.

Freshman Drew Richter helped the Illini to an 8-0 start to the season with two wins over the McKendree Bearcats over the weekend. The forward scored two goals on Saturday, giving the team a 2-1 lead in the first period. The Illini won 6-1. Head coach Nick Fabbrini said Richter may be the fastest player on the team.

Nikky Gary

Nikky Gary

Freshman Drew Richter helped the Illini to an 8-0 start to the season with two wins over the McKendree Bearcats over the weekend. The forward scored two goals on Saturday, giving the team a 2-1 lead in the first period. The Illini won 6-1. Head coach Nick Fabbrini said Richter may be the fastest player on the team.


Freshman forward Drew Richter was simply playing defense along the right boards when a McKendree Bearcats’ turnover gave him his best scoring opportunity of the night.

The puck bounced off the stick of a Bearcats defenseman at the Illini’s blue line. Richter took notice and was off to the races with the puck. There was only one man in his way, McKendree goaltender Andrew Best.

“I went to my left just so I could shield the puck off,” Richter said. “I went forehand, backhand because it’s a really easy move on a breakaway and it felt good for the situation. He bit hard, and I five-holed him.”

The goal was Richter’s first goal on the weekend, and it gave his team a 2-1 lead in the first period. Richter found the back of the net again in the third period to make it a 6-1 game and help his team move to 8-0 in the season.

Already through eight games, Richter has tallied 12 points — five goals and seven assists. The modest winger from Chicago, Illinois gave credit for his successful weekend not to himself, but his veteran line mates.

“Cruickshank and Stueve, it’s really easy to play with them,” Richter said. “They’re always open, or if they have the puck, I’m able to get open for them.”

In his first season as an Illini, Richter has been playing on one of the top lines alongside senior forwards Eric Cruickshank and Grant Stueve, who have been two staples of the program for the last four years. While a move like that may bring nerves for some newcomers, Richter was not fazed.

Since he played junior hockey before he came to the university, Richter felt like he already had enough experience. Staying calm and complacent while realizing he has an opportunity at Illinois has helped him make the adjustment, Richter said.

All the while, building chemistry with Cruickshank and Stueve on and off the ice has been easy for Richter.

“It starts off the ice. I’ve been over to their apartment a lot getting to know them and get comfortable around them,” Richter said. “On the ice, it’s a really easy transition. I like to pass a lot, obviously Cruickshank and Stueve like to shoot a lot, so I think our games play into each other really well.”

Stueve has also been a fan of Richter’s addition to the line. With senior forward James McGing not on the line anymore, Stueve felt they were looking for that last piece of the puzzle to build the team’s depth, and Richter is that piece, Stueve said earlier this season.

Going into the year, Illinois head coach Nick Fabbrini knew Richter was going to have a significant impact for his club right off the bat, going as far to say that Richter may be the fastest player on the team.

While the transition to playing with his new teammates has come easy, the transition to club hockey has been different.

“Junior hockey is faster than here so I get to take the game a lot slower now,” Richter said. “It’s almost in slow motion now and it’s easier for me to make plays.”

Switching over to the wide-ice at the Illinois Ice Arena has made Richter adjust his game, as it makes playing defense much more difficult. However, Richter said the ice meshes well offensively for him as he is able to utilize his speed more.

The Illini will be facing their first real test this year when they travel to Saint Charles, Missouri, to square off against the Lindenwood Lions—a series that will also test Richter.

“It’s definitely going to be a big measuring tool for me,” Richter said. “I’m feeling good about the weekend and our team and hopefully make it 10-0.”

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