Former Dundee Stars goaltender, Nicola Riopel has been away from Tayside for seven years but the Canadian shot-stopper still holds Dundee close to his heart and now he has revisited his memories of the Stars.

By Kris Smith

Riopel was brought in to be the starting netminder for the Stars in the 2012-2013 Elite League campaign and he joined the club from East Coast Hockey League side, Greenville Road Warriors.

The native of St Pie, Quebec also brought a lot of experience to the team, after he had spent the previous years of his career playing in some of the top North American Leagues, such as the American Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Nick started off by explaining what he has been doing since leaving Dundee back in 2013 and he began: “After my season in Dundee, I went to play in Denmark (where my daughter was born) and then in France after.

“Then, I came back to the East Coast Hockey League for three seasons under an American Hockey League contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning farm team (Syracuse Crunch) and appeared in one NHL exhibition game which was the first time that it happened to me since being drafted in 2009.

“Now I am a full time player agent for the agency PROPULSION, which I am a founding member of.

“We represent over 30 clients, both in North America and Europe and three of them have played with the Dundee Stars (Félix-Antoine Poulin, Gabriel Lévesque and Anthony Beauregard).

 

 

Riopel then shared some of his memories from his time in Scotland and also picked what his favourite moment in a Stars jersey was.

He said: “My family and I really enjoyed our experience in Dundee.

“It’s such a great community and the people took really good care of us.

“We didn’t have the greatest team during my time there but I remember the fans being behind us all the time.

“It was very special for me when they were chanting “RIO, RIO, RIO” every time I made a big save.

“My oldest daughter was six at the time and remember that she was amazed by all those castles since she believed in princesses at the time.

“Even to this day, my wife says that Dundee was one of her favourite spots and that she would like to go back to visit again.

“Although, I believe that my favourite moment of the season was our three wins in three nights on the road with the fans following us everywhere.

“We started off by beating Belfast in front of 5000 people, after that we went to Glasgow and won, before we completed our six-point weekend in Edinburgh.”

 

 

The 2009 Philadelphia Flyers draft pick also told the story of how he ended up in Dundee for the 2012-2013 season.

Nick explained: “The lockout in the NHL was happening that year and I knew that it would really affect my situation being a goalie.

“Also, I was in a relationship with my wife (girlfriend at the time) and we wanted to live the European/family lifestyle.

“Jeff Hutchins was really aggressive and I felt that he really wanted me to be the “difference maker” which I always enjoyed being when I played.

“They offered me an opportunity to play all the games, my own apartment and making sure my family could travel with me, which is what I asked for.”

Both before and after he had played for the Stars, Riopel experienced the difficulty of finding a place on the North American hockey ladder, as players are moved up and down between the ECHL, AHL and NHL.

He added: “As you can see, the hockey industry is a big business and most certainly in North America.

“As a goalie, I knew that every NHL teams had to sign 5-6 goalies and it was pretty clear which one played in the NHL, AHL and ECHL.

“I had to perform but also count on some injuries to move up the ladder.

“I think it gave me experience and taught me how to deal with my emotions since there is a lot of ups and downs.

“It built my character and I believe that’s why I was able to make the jump to Europe at an early age.”

 

 

Finally, Nick had a message to share with all the Stars fans back in Dundee and he said: “I would like to thanks the fans of the Dundee Stars for the great memories and all their support for the time my family and I were there.

“You are known to be great people and an asset, when it’s time for a player to decide whether they should go to Dundee or not.

“We like your generosity and how you welcome us with open arms which makes us feel at home right away.

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart and please take care of each other during this difficult moment!”

That concludes our series of ‘Look Back’ articles on the 12th Dundee Stars season but there is plenty more still to come, as next week we take you back to the 2013-2014 season.

If you want to be a part of the historic 20th Dundee Stars season then you can buy your season tickets by contacting [email protected]

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22 Games
8 Wins
13 Losses
1 OT Losses
17 Points