Fargo Force defenseman Taylor Richart, once thought to be returning for the 2012-13 season, will be a Miami (OH) Redhawk next season after committing to the school late this week.
Richart was an important piece to the Force blue line during his only season in the United States Hockey league. What was impressive was the increase in statistics between his one season in the North American Hockey League and his one season in Fargo.
He scored 12 points and was a minus-23 in his lone season with the Aberdeen Wings. He took off in the USHL, being named the league’s Defenseman of the Week during the first week of the season. He went on to net 16 points and finish with a plus-8 rating.
A heavy shot and a high hockey IQ helped Richart man the top power play unit with Minnesota-Duluth bound Willie Corrin for much of the season. The Force power play was its second best in team history at 18.89%.
The 5-foot-9, 160 pound Blaine (MN-HS) graduate featured a heavy shot at times on one-time chances on the power play.
Richart also saw heavy minutes on the penalty kill, which finished third in the league at 86.08%. That total is the best in the organization’s four years of play.
Force assistant coach and chief scout Jesse Davis said earlier in the summer that Richart had received walk-on offers from un-named schools, but was planning to come back to Fargo at the time. Things changed when Richart had some good conversations with Miami, and it culminated in him committing to the school for this coming fall.
The loss of Richart means that the Force will only return Justin Wade (Notre Dame), Dominic Racobaldo, Neal Goff, Taylor Fleming, and possibly David Mead on the blue line. Racobaldo came over midseason in a trade from Omaha, while Goff and Fleming both played key minutes at forward last season. Mead’s status is still uncertain, as he was drafted 17th overall in the recent NAHL draft.
Richart had looked like he would be a solid replacement for three-year player Brian Cooper, who will be at Nebraska-Omaha next season. The more he played last season, the more Cooper-like qualities he showed.
He plays hard, he likes to be involved in the offensive, and he can deliver the occasional big hit despite being undersized. Richart also has strong leadership qualities.
Richart becomes the second Force player to leave for the college ranks after being expected to return for next season. Jonny Brodzinski said recently that he will join St. Cloud State University for the 2012-13 season rather than returning to Fargo. Brodzinski and Richart were high school teammates at Blaine.
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