Riopel spent last season with the Rouen Dragons of the French League. The 6’0”, 190-pound goaltender posted a 19-7 record along with a 2.51 GAA and a .903 SV% in the regular season. Additionally, he stood out for the Dragons in the postseason, helping the Dragons secure a French Cup Championship with a 1-1-1 record with a 2.11 GAA in the process, along with a .920 SV%.
“I am a big competitor, so I wanted the North American professional challenge again. I want to play more games, have the chance to win a championship, and I want to have the opportunity to move up within an organization. Joe is building a team with a chance to win, and that’s what brought me here,” Riopel stated on his return to North American hockey with the Rush. When asked about his “x-factor” in net, Riopel concluded: “I always tell people that you can’t buy experience. That is what I have, and that is my biggest strength. I know now what it takes to win and look to continue that with the Rush.”
“Elite goaltending is a necessity at the ECHL level. With teams that win championships and have great success, it is imperative to have two high-quality goaltenders. Nic has won everywhere he has played in the major-junior, AHL, and ECHL levels,” said Rush Head Coach and GM, Joe Ferras. “Nic, only being 26 years of age and seeing success at the ECHL level and overseas, understands that this is big year for himself and his career to get to the next level. We expect Nic to come to Rapid City and prove that he is an elite goaltender that gives us a chance to win on a nightly basis.”
Originally from Otterburn Park, Quebec, Riopel enters his sixth season of professional hockey, and his third in the ECHL. In his first ECHL season with the Greenville Road Warriors, Nic earned 24 wins, still a franchise record, in 38 games (24-12-2). The French-Canadian’s journey through hockey began in the QMJHL with the Moncton Wildcats, where he not only won the 2010 Championship with current Rush forward Scott Brannon, but also backstopped a record-setting campaign in the 2008-09 season as he posted a 2.01 GAA, the lowest in the history of the “Q”. In that same season, Riopel pieced together a 43-11-4 record with a .930 SV%, and was awarded both the Jacques Plante Trophy for lowest GAA in the league and the Michel Briere Trophy as the QMJHL MVP. After the conclusion of his junior career, Riopel was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2009 NHL Draft (5th Round-#142).
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