Skipjacks get 2 shots at Richter Former All-Star offers taste of NHL

January 22, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz and his assistant, Paul Gardner, exchanged knowing looks after studying the Binghamton Rangers news release.

"Just our luck to have to face Richter in two games," Trotz said.

Mike Richter, a goalie who played in last season's NHL All-Star Game, had been sent down by the New York Rangers to Binghamton. The Skipjacks will play against Binghamton -- and Richter -- tonight and tomorrow at the Baltimore Arena.

Trotz and Gardner figured it was bad enough the Skipjacks had to meet the AHL's winningest team twice within 24 hours. Instead of a double dose of Corey Hirsch, the AHL's top-ranked goalie who had been recalled by New York, the Skipjacks are getting back-to-back Richter.

Richter, 26, came out of Abington, Pa., to play at the University of Wisconsin and in the 1988 Olympics before joining the New York Rangers in 1988. He was the Rangers' second draft choice in 1985.

Although a finalist last year in balloting for the Vezina Trophy that goes to the NHL's top goaltender, Richter fell into a slump this year and was 9-9-2 in 21 games when reassigned by New York. John Vanbiesbrouck has supplanted him as the Rangers' No. 1.

"They tried everything in New York to get Mike out of his funk," Binghamton coach Colin Campbell said.

"It got to the point where he was being pulled from too many games -- which was hard on his confidence, of course.

"He had a good game against Ottawa, which we thought he could build on, but then had a tough one against Philadelphia. He came to Binghamton for the age-old reason -- to get his confidence back."

Richter apparently is, judging by his three games with the team. The Skipjacks will be confronted by a goalie who has a 6-1 win over Rochester, a 2-1 win over Adirondack and a 1-1 tie with Hershey. Three games, three goals against.

"You won't see him with Binghamton very long," the Skipjacks' Mark Hunter said. "He'll be going right back up."

Hunter, 30 and an 11-year NHL veteran, is the only Skipjack with substantial exposure to Richter. He will brief his young teammates on Richter before tonight's game.

"He's very quick," Hunter said. "He doesn't quit on a play. Some goalies, after making a save, won't bounce back to the open net. Richter gives that extra bit that others don't.

"This will be a good challenge for all of us. The young kids will see if they can score against an NHL goaltender."

Byron Dafoe, the Skipjacks' goalie, makes a study of other goalies at every opportunity. It's his opinion that Richter and Vanbiesbrouck were the NHL's best one-two punch last season.

"Richter is one of the best stylists in the NHL," Dafoe said.

"He's so solid. Most goalies sprawl to make the big save. Richter is the stand-up type who's ready for that second shot."

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