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Syracuse Crunch re-sign Nicola Riopel and K-Wings sign Jimmy Mullin

Both players should see playing time with Kalamazoo this season

JustinG. personal collection

This year has seen a great dispersal of goaltenders in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. In the last six months, Ben Bishop, Kristers Gudlevskis, Adam Wilcox and Mike McKenna have all been moved out of the organization. On Wednesday, Syracuse Crunch GM Julien BriseBois brought that trend to a halt when he announced that Nicola Riopel re-signed with the team.

The former French Cup champion spent a brief time with the Crunch last season when he was called up after Gudlevskis went to Tampa while Bishop was sidelined with an injury. Despite not appearing in a game in Syracuse, Riopel found something that worked. Returning to the Kalamazoo Wings following his stint in Syracuse, Riopel went on a tear, winning 13 of his next 15 starts and helping the K-Wings reach the Kelly Cup playoffs.

Overall, Riopel finished his first season in Kalamazoo with an 18-12-1 record, an .899 Sv% and 3.13 GAA. He also went 2-2 in the K-Wings first round series against Toledo.

Most likely the native of Beloeil, Quebec will return to Kalamazoo and split time between the pipes with Joel Martin. The re-signing does give the organization some familiar depth should rookie Connor Ingram struggle in Syracuse, or if there is an injury anywhere in the organization that requires a call up.

Riopel’s ECHL career spans 129 games and he has seen action in Kalamazoo, Rapid City, Norfolk, and Greenville uniforms. He also appeared in 21 AHL games with the Adirondack Phantoms following his selection by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 5th round of the 2009 NHL draft (six spots ahead of Lightning Legend Michael Zador!).

On Thursday the Kalamazoo Wings also announced that they had re-signed Jimmy Mullin to a one-year deal. The former Lightning draft pick (4th round 2010) has yet to appear in a game for the K-Wings because he suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp last year. Even with the grind of rehab, his off-ice contributions to the community earned him the team’s Community Service Award. He also spent some time in the radio booth providing color commentary for play-by-play man Joe Roberts.

The 25-year-old played college hockey with Miami (Ohio) putting up 47 points in 94 games for the RedHawks. Following a knee injury and a battle with Parsonage-Turner syndrome, nerve disorder that causes severe shoulder pain and weakness, he spent his final collegiate season at Minnesota State University, Mankato, picking up another 10 points in 31 games.