Ritchie brothers looking to bring their brand of power to the NHL

By Sean Shapiro
Brett Ritchie - Texas Stars

Photo: Texas Stars forward and Dallas Stars prospect Brett Ritchie appeared in 31 NHL games in the 2014-15 season but is still waiting for his call-up in the 2015-16 campaign (courtesy of Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

 

 

Two of the best power forwards in the AHL’s Pacific Division are constantly communicating.

Sometimes it is via text, other times it is a quick call. When they don’t directly communicate, one is often watching the other’s game online or checking the box score on the AHL website.

But, that is what you would expect from brothers, right?

“We’re always rooting for each other and cheering for each other,” Nick Ritchie said. “Except when we play each other. When that happens, I’m planning on beating him.”

When they aren’t playing each other, Anaheim Ducks prospect Nick Ritchie and Dallas Stars prospect Brett Ritchie are making an impact as prospects and working toward a promising NHL future.

And they look like mirror images of each other.

Brett is a 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-handed right wing. Nick is a 6-foot-2, 232-pound left-handed left wing. Both brothers play a physical, hard-charging game, and they both wear No. 20 for their AHL clubs.

“If we stand next to each other, it’s like you’re looking in a mirror,” Brett Ritchie said. “We both have a couple things we do differently. But we’re both big, strong players that like to put the puck in the net.”

Putting the puck in the net is what will help both players succeed in their potential NHL careers.

In 33 AHL games this season, Nick has 28 points (15 goals, 13 assists) for the San Diego Gulls. He is still looking for his first NHL goal and has appeared in 15 games with the Ducks.

Brett has not played in an NHL game yet this season, but he appeared in 31 games with Dallas last season and had nine points (six goals, three assists) with the NHL club.

To be fair, the elder Ritchie would have started the season in the NHL if not for a pre-season wrist injury.

The big winger injured his wrist shooting a puck while playing in a summer league in Toronto. He fired the puck and had a defenseman check his stick, something felt off and after surgery Ritchie missed the first half of the season.

“That was frustrating,” Brett Ritchie said.

While he was out, Brett was passed by on the Dallas Stars depth chart. Rookie Mattias Janmark seemingly came out of nowhere to grab an NHL roster spot, while fellow forwards Radek Faksa and Curtis McKenzie took advantage of the injury and have been above Ritchie on the call-up list for Dallas.

“I’m not worried about that right now,” Brett Ritchie said. “I’m just focused on playing my game.”

And he has started to find his game. After a slow start after the injury, and lots of extra attention from the Texas Stars’ training staff, Ritchie has found his role as a scorer. He is getting more power play time and has 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 32 games.

“I know that was tough for him,” Nick Ritchie said. “But you can see what type of player he is.”

Nick Ritchie is a slightly different player – he plays with more of an attitude than Brett – but having an older brother go through the NHL process was valuable to launching his career.

“It was nice to have him go through everything a couple years before,” Nick Ritchie said. “I kind of always wanted to do what he did. So far we’re going OK.”

Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter via @seanshapiro