Jordan Richards was wondering if he would be going to the rink after graduating from the major midget hockey ranks, but now he’s excited about plying his talents on the junior A level.
The slick five-foot-six forward is hoping to crack the lineup of the expansion St. Stephens Aces of the Maritime Junior Hockey League when he attends training camp later this summer. Selected by the Campbellton Tigers last year in the entry draft, Richards was acquired by the Aces in the expansion draft after he was left unprotected by the Tigers. All teams in the league are required to leave two players off their present roster to build personnel for expansion teams in the league.
Last season, Richards. who hails from St. Anthony, was the Kings top scorer in the playoffs with five goals and 12 assists as the Kings lost in the final to the Central Ice Pak. He finished second in team scoring during the regular campaign with 19 goals and 24 helpers for 43 points, while only accumulating four penalty minutes.
“I’m really excited actually,” Richards said of being acquired by the Aces. “I was looking forward to playing hockey again and now I got a good chance of playing.”
He had no idea the expansion Aces were interested in him, but he’s happy to have a chance to prove himself and he was very impressed with what he heard from the coaching staff when he was contacted about the news.
“I was already to talking to the coach and he sounded really professional and upfront with me,” he said.
At 170 pounds, Richards knows the next level of hockey will be a tougher brand than what he was used to playing with the Kings. He knows he will have to adjust to playing against guys older, bigger and stronger than him, so plans on working hard over the summer to improve both his strength and conditioning to increase his chances of making the cut.
“I got to really focus on just staying in hockey shape, working hard at it and hopefully going up and impressing them,” he said.
Richards will find himself surrounded by a few familiar faces when he goes to the camp as the Aces also scooped up a couple of former Kings teammates — Chad Jones, who played in Summerside last year, and Tigers 2013 draft pick David Budgell of St. Anthony — through the expansion draft.
“That’s a big bonus for me,” he said. “I get along really good with those guys and I’ve been playing with them and I know how to play with them.”