The Rapid City Rush announced the signing of its first goalie Wednesday. Nicola Riopel was the Philadelphia Flyers fifth round draft pick in 2009, and last played in the ECHL in 2012, when he played in 25 games for the Greenville Road Warriors.
Riopel posted a 19-7 record and a 2.51 GAA last season for the Rouen Dragons of the French League en route to a French Cup Championship. The 26-year-old from Otterburn Park, Quebec will play his sixth season of professional hockey, and returns to North America for the first time since leaving Greenville.
"I am a big competitor, so I wanted the North American professional challenge again," he said in a press release. " 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 [Ferras, the Rush's general manager] is building a team with a chance to win, and that’s what brought me here."
The netminder was a QMJHL standout during his four years with the Moncton Wildcats, and a part of two President's Cup teams. He won the Jacques Plante Trophy for the lowest GAA in the league after the 2008-09 season as well as the Michel Briere Trophy, awarded to the league MVP. His 2.01 GAA is the lowest in league history to date.
He's also had two short stints in the AHL for the Adirondack Phantoms. In 2009, he went 4-6 with a 3.35 GAA, while he posted a 3-7 record the following year with a 3.55 GAA and an .874 save percentage.
With roughly three weeks to go before the beginning of training camp, the Rush's other goaltender will likely come from within the Coyotes' organization, as Nicklas Treutle, Louis Domingue, and Tyler Beskorowany are all battling for spots in AHL Springfield.