March 19, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- The inaugural Mike Richter Award, named for the University of Wisconsin and American goaltending great, is down to the top five. Let's Play Hockey and the Herb Brooks Foundation announced Wednesday the five finalists for the 2014 Mike Richter Award, which will annually honor the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA men's hockey. The winner of the inaugural award will be announced at the 2014 NCAA Men's Frozen Four in Philadelphia.
Chosen from 19 candidates, the five finalists include Wisconsin junior goaltender Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan). He is joined by Denver senior Sam Brittain, UMass Lowell sophomore Connor Hellebuyck, Minnesota sophomore Adam Wilcox and Northeastern junior Clay Witt.
Named 2014 second-team All-Big Ten earlier this week, Rumpel has been among the nation's top goaltenders all season long. He ranks fourth in the country with a 19-5-1 record, which is good for a .780 winning percentage. That includes a national-best 17 victories since Dec. 1. He also ranks sixth in the nation with his 2.00 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.
A Hockey Commissioners' Association Honorable Mention National Player of the Month in Feburary, Rumpel was also a two-time Big Ten First Star of the Week, while picking up a Big Ten Second Star of the Week honor, as well.
Rumpel boasts a nine-game winning streak and a five-game winning streak this season. The nine-game streak is among the top five in UW history. He also boasts two shutouts on the year and nine for his career, which is tied for second in Wisconsin's record book.
A personal finance major, Rumpel is one of the most active student-athletes at Wisconsin when it comes to giving back to the community. Some of his involvement includes visits to American Family Children's Hospital, serving as a hole-host for the Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety Golf Outing and visiting a local elementary school as part of the WiscFit program to promote fitness and nutrition to local youth. He's also taking part in the team's new Adopt-A-Player program, which allows local youth hockey teams to adopt a player from the UW hockey team and have them visit in person and correspond through the season.
Candidates for the Mike Richter Award were determined by nominations from all 59 NCAA Division I men's hockey head coaches. The finalists and winner are selected by a committee of coaches, scouts and members of the media.
Criteria for the Mike Richter Award:
- Candidates must display outstanding skills on the ice
- Candidates should be in good academic standing at an NCAA college or university
- Consideration should be given to academic achievement and sportsmanship
- Candidates must comply with all NCAA rules; be full-time students at an NCAA college or university; and complete 50 percent or more of the season
- Consideration should be given to the candidate's activities in the community
Largely considered one of the top goaltenders of the last 30 years, Mike Richter played youth hockey in Pennsylvania and New York before heading to the University of Wisconsin to stop pucks for the Badgers. In two seasons in Madison, Richter was named the 1986 WCHA Freshman of the Year and earned All-WCHA second team honors in 1987.
After two seasons in the IHL, Richter made his NHL debut in the 1989 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the New York Rangers. Playing full-time for the Rangers beginning with the 1990-91 season, he was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie in just his second full season in the NHL.
After splitting goaltending duties with veteran John Vanbiesbrouck for several seasons, Richter was made the Rangers' primary starter for the 1993-94 season. He went on to post a career-best 42 wins and 2.57 goals-against average that year as the Rangers won the Presidents' Trophy as the league's top regular-season team. In the playoffs, Richter backstopped New York to the Stanley Cup Finals where the Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win their first Stanley Cup since 1940. During the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he became the eighth goaltender to post four shutouts in one playoff season.
Consistently ranked one of the world's best goaltenders, Richter played in 666 games during his 14-year NHL career, all with the Rangers. His 301 wins are more than any other Rangers goaltender and he was named an NHL All-Star three times in his career. Richter's jersey (#35) became the third number retired by the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 4, 2004.
Richter was also a standout on the international stage, tending the net for Team USA for parts of three decades. He is one of just 10 Americans ever to compete in at least three Olympic Games (1988, 1998, 2002), including in 2002 when he helped the team capture the silver medal. In addition, he led Team USA to the World Cup of Hockey championship in 1996 and was named the tournament's MVP. He also played in two IIHF World Junior Championships (1985-86), three IIHF Men's World Championships (1986-87, 1993) and the 1991 Canada Cup.
Richter was inducted into the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005 and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008.
In alphabetical order, the finalists for the 2014 Mike Richter Award are: