Flyers' prospect: Goalie with a goal

Goalie Nic Riopel is looking to move up to the Flyers in a couple of years.
Goalie Nic Riopel is looking to move up to the Flyers in a couple of years.
Posted: July 10, 2010

Goalie Nic Riopel understands the situation quite well.

After being a fifth-round draft pick of the Flyers last year, Riopel knows that the path to the NHL takes time and patience.

Last year during the Flyers' weeklong prospects camp, he persuaded the team to give him an extended look. He was sent to Adirondack, the team's minor-league affiliate, where he mainly played as a reserve. In 10 starts, he compiled a 4-6-0 record.

Now, in his return to prospects camp this week, Riopel finds himself with an added sense of optimism. The Flyers are looking to fill a glaring hole in their roster at goalie. And even though the 21-year-old might be a couple of years from making such a transition, he's using this time to prepare himself for when that opportunity does arrive.

"For sure it changes my approach" to camp, he said. "But at the same time, my goal is to play in the NHL. And if the Flyers think that I'm the one who could help the organization, then I'm going to be 100 percent ready to face the challenge."

For now, it appears like an uphill battle but certainly not out of the question.

"I think there's always a good chance that one of these kids will come along," said Don Luce, the team's director of player development. "Again, we give them the opportunity. We try to give them all the attention with the coaching and everything else. It's up to them to put the effort in and make the best of it.

"At this stage, everyone's a possibility."

Riopel is one of six goalie prospects taking part in the weeklong camp, which on Friday passed the midway point. Only two on-ice practice sessions and three scrimmages remain.

At camp, Riopel is one of two goalies who played for Adirondack last season - the other is Brian Stewart - which bodes well for Riopel and his competitive spirit.

Even though he's played in other leagues before, he understands the value of playing under the guidance of the Flyers staff under conditions that might be out of his comfort zone.

"It's a really good experience here," he said. "Just to feel the ice, to feel the crowd. It was really good. They say if you could play here, you could play anywhere. I'm just looking forward to continuing it."

Although some goalies aren't ready to make an impact until they're 25 or 26 years old, Luce said, it's imperative for players to remain focused each step of the way.

"That position - especially goaltending - takes time," Luce said. "It takes time to learn the game. Every mistake shows up on the board. It's a learning process, so there's no rush.

"[Riopel's] got time, and he's got a great attitude. He works hard at his game, so he's going to continue to improve."

Contact staff writer Mario Aguirre at 215-854-4550


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