SCHENECTADY — For a time as a youth hockey player, Tom Richter played goalie just like his father, legendary New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter, who backstopped the team to the 1994 Stanley Cup.
But Richter also played forward in youth hockey. And he liked that a lot.
“I started off as a goaltender. I was probably 5 or 6,” said Richter, the Union freshman forward before the team began a workout Thursday at Messa Rink. “However, just like how young teams work, I played forward because there was a rotation. I fell in love with forward.”
And what did Richter’s father think?
“I don’t how my dad really feels about that,” Richter said with a laugh. “I never looked back. It’s been going great ever since.”
Richter said he reached out to his father for advice about playing college hockey and the recruiting process. Mike Richter played college hockey at Wisconsin, and the award for the best goalie in college hockey is named after him.
“He’s been a great resource of help,” Richter said. “I lean on him all the time just for advice, and, honestly, as a friend to talk to through the ups and downs. I love having him in my corner, and he’s helped me tremendously.”
Richter is no stranger to Union. Four years ago, he participated in a summer prospects camp at Messa Rink. He immediately fell in love with Union.
“Ever since I stepped foot on campus for the first time, something about the school grasped me,” Richter said. “Loved it ever since. From then on out, I was [thinking] this is the school I want to go to.
“From the get-go, Union showed a lot of interest in me. They have a special place in my heart just from always having a great relationship with them. When I got the opportunity to come here, I jumped on it at a moment’s notice.”
Richter, a left-handed shot, played in 20 games in a shortened season for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League last year. He had three goals and six assists.
In addition to being at the prospects camp, Union head coach Rick Bennett saw Richter playing for the Salisbury School in 2018-19 and the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings the following season. Bennett liked what he saw.
“He can skate,” Bennett said. “He seems to always be involved in the play. He showed some skill when he had those skilled-area plays. And he has character. On his visit and just getting to know him, he’s a good, quality guy.
“I’m looking for speed and in the skill area when needed, and good on the forecheck. Hopefully, he’s going to learn to finish his hits, just like they all will. He’s one that I think can contribute to the forecheck, as well.”
Thursday was the first full-team workout of the season as the Dutchmen prepare for their exhibition game against RPI on Oct. 2 at Messa. That will be their first game since losing to Yale in Game 3 of the ECAC Hockey first round on March 8, 2020. Last season’s schedule was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Dutchmen will play their first regular-season game Oct. 8 at New Hampshire.
Players and coaches were happy to be back on the ice.
“Everything we went through last year, we’re just super excited,” Union senior forward Josh Kosack said. “Obviously, with the late start to classes this year, we’re excited to finally get everyone back together with the coaching staff. We’re super excited, and just trying to get prepared for UNH.”
Practicing with a goal in mind of having a season this year will make the practices more fun.
“Last year, we were practicing with a lot of unknowns and a lot of what-ifs,” Kosack said. “So now that we have an official start date with RPI as an exhibition game, followed by UNH the following weekend, there’s definitely a little more jump in our step. I think we’re a lot more grateful for the opportunity just because of what happened last year and that you can never take anything for granted.”
While the majority of Union’s games will be streamed on ESPN+ this season, a Union spokesman said the exhibition game against RPI will not be televised.