Captain Jason Richter continues to further cement his status as the greatest goal scorer and perhaps the greatest leader in Kimberley Dynamiters history.
After overtaking Tommy Latouche-Gauvin (86 goals from 2005-06 to 2007-08) earlier this season as the all-time franchise leading goal scorer, Richter became the first player in Kimberley Dynamiters history to reach the century mark, as he tallied the 100th goal of his Kootenay International Junior Hockey League career Saturday night.
“I don’t think we accomplish anything without [Jason] in terms of his leadership and the effort that he puts in,” said Jerry Bancks, head coach of the Kimberley Dynamiters. “It’s not just what you see out there in a game situation. He’s like that every practice. That allows us as a coaching staff to push extremely hard.
“He is the epitome of a captain.”
With blazing speed, a lightning-quick release and an unmatched work ethic, the 5-foot-8, 180-pound native of Cranbrook established himself as one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the KIJHL during the 2014-15 season, leading the league in scoring with 39 goals and 70 points in 52 games.
“Every time he’s on the ice, everybody is watching him,” said alternate captain Jordan Busch. “Everybody always wants to do what he does out there. He works so hard, really hard out there. It’s nice to watch him play. People want their play to resemble his. He’s a good leader on and off the ice.”
Saturday night with the Golden Rockets visiting the Kimberley Civic Centre, the peppy winger was up to his usual antics, tallying two goals to help fuel his club to its league-leading 26th victory.
In the first period, Richter found the back of the net in classic fashion.
With a power-play opportunity and a 1-0 lead on the board, the Nitros captain parked himself in his regular spot on the right side before walking in and unleashing a laser that beat Rockets goaltender Owen Sikkes for the 99th goal of his KIJHL career.
His 100th tally won’t necessarily be remembered as classic Jason Richter in the same sense as the 99th — an electrifying shot of energy courtesy a speedy release — but in many ways, the century marker represents exactly what makes the Dynamiters captain all that he is.
On what looked to be a broken play, linemate James Farmer carried the puck into the offensive zone before throwing it towards the slot.
At first glance, it didn’t appear as if there was a Dynamiters stick within reach of the bouncing biscuit, but suddenly, as if shot out of a cannon, Richter came barreling through the slot, diving to redirect the loose puck up and over the shoulder of Sikkes.
The crowd erupted as Richter, still cruising across the ice surface on his back, went flying into the end boards, a beaming grin spread across his face.
“I think it means I’ve been here a long time,” Richter said with a laugh, that same smile still shining from ear to ear. “Obviously it’s nice. It’s been an honour playing here. This is my fourth year here and it’s a big accomplishment for me.
“When I came to the bench, I had to get a play-by-play [of the goal]. I completely blanked out. I forgot what happened.”
With 25 goals and 49 points to his credit so far this season, Richter is one point behind Rainer Glimpel of the Osoyoos Coyotes (17-33-50) as he looks to repeat as the leading scorer in the KIJHL.
Suiting up in 178 KIJHL games (and counting), Richter has registered 100 goals and 96 assists for 196 points. Next up on the milestone tracker is the all-time franchise lead in overall scoring, held by Ken Ireland.
Ireland posted 45 goals and 200 points over three seasons (1975-76 to 1977-78) with the old Kimberley Dynamiters of the Western International Hockey League (senior amateur).
If we’re looking only at the junior-aged reincarnation of the Dynamiters franchise, well, Richter already holds the all-time points mark, though teammate and Kimberley native Jared Marchi (85-110-195) is hot on his heels.
Over the years, fans have seen Richter dance inside-out through defenders. They’ve watched him redirect point shots and they’ve witnessed him race in alone with only a goaltender to beat.
He’s the first man to drop to the ice and block a booming slap shot from close range.
He’s almost always the first man into the corner, and just as frequently, the one to emerge with the puck.
Even when Richter is banged up, beaten and bruised, Bancks basically needs to shackle his captain to the bench if he has any hope of calming his competitive drive.
So while Richter will always be remembered as one of the greatest goal scorers in franchise history, it’s his fiery passion and desire that ultimately secure his place as one of the greatest leaders in Kimberley Dynamiters history.
While goal scorers are great, you don’t win without true leaders.
Years from now, when he has long graduated from junior hockey, fans will remember Jason Richter for his goal-scoring prowess, but they’ll remember him even more for leading the Kimberley Dynamiters to at least one KIJHL championship.