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from page 81
last season with the United States
Hockey League's Chicago Steel, where
he was the USHL's rookie of the year
and led the league's defensemen with
54 points in 56 games.
While choosing a college, "I was
looking at other schools," he admits.
But he stopped looking after visiting
Ann Arbor. "I've been bred to love this
school. I came here and it was kind of
a natural fit for me. I loved it right
when I walked on campus."
During his recruitment, his parents
"left their personal stories [about U-
M] out of it," Richmond says. "They
wanted me to make my own decision
and find what's best for me. After I
committed, my dad pretty much told
me all the things he did in school and -
all the good things about the school."
Like Nystrom, Richmond seems
destined for an NHL career. Among
all college players eligible for the June
20 entry draft, Richmond is currently
ranked seventh by the NHL's Central
Scouting Service and 48th among all
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Noah Ruden's path to Ann Arbor
wasn't as straight as Nystrom or
He grew up in Bloomfield Hills and
graduated from Andover High School,
but left the state to play two seasons in
the USHL, for the Dubuque Fighting
Saints in 2000-01, then the Nebraska-
based Tri-City Storm last year.
Then Michigan came calling, and he
didn't hesitate to answer. "There's so
much tradition behind Michigan. It's a
top-five, top-10 program every year.
And when they offer you a spot on the
team, it's hard to reject it. Not to
mention my parents (Andrew and Jo)
both went here and my sister goes
here, so I have a lot of ties to the
school to begin with."
Ruden understood that he'd begin
the season backing up fellow freshman
netminder Al Montoya. "The coaches
told me straight up that Al's going to
get the first shot," Ruden says. "But
coming in, both freshmen, I had my
chance, and I should keep battling.
And that's what I'm going to do.
"If I'm going to be backing up Al,
I'm going to be working my butt off
The harder I work, the harder it's
going to make him work, too. So any-
thing I can do to help the team out
and get us to where we want to go,
I'm happy to do."
As of Jan. 25, Ruden had allowed
one goal in 39 minutes, for a 1.54
goals-against average and a .941 save
percentage. Last year, Ruden played
43 games for Dubuque, posting a 20-
16-4 record and leading the USHL
with five shutouts.
The transition to a backup role is
difficult, Ruden admits. "I'm not used
to it. Last year, I played pretty much
every game. I've got to stay tough
mentally. But being here is going to
help every part of my game. I know
that if I come through I'll be a much
better goalie for it."
Nystrom and Richmond both see
regular ice time. In 20 games,
Nystrom had eight goals and five
assists with a plus-minus rating of
plus-12. Richmond, playing an offen-
sive-defenseman role (similar to his
father's style), had two goals and seven
assists and was plus-4 in 24 games.
Nystrom's game is also reminiscent
of his father's. He's a physical player
who blends good offensive skills with
solid defensive play. His two-way style
is "the strongest part of my game,"
Nystrom says. "A lot of players take
pride in their offensive game. I like to
go out there and be put against anoth-
er team's top line and shut them
down, while at the same time produc-
ing some offensive numbers."
All three are enrolled in U-M's
College of Literature, Science and the
Arts. Nystrom takes general studies,
Richmond is focusing on English
classes and Ruden majors in commu-
Ruden, whose family belongs to
Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, is
the only one of the trio with JCC
Maccabi Games experience, mainly
because ice hockey isn't a Maccabi
sport. "They only had roller hockey,"
Ruden explains, "so I decided to go
into baseball" at the 1998 regional
games in Detroit.
The three don't give much thought
to their unusual situation, although
Nystrom acknowledges that "there
aren't too many Jews in the ice hockey
community. We've got the most
diverse hockey team I've ever seen.
We've got Jewish players, we've got
Chaldean players, and everybody jokes
"But it's good to see that there's
more of a diversity, especially Jewish
athletes playing hockey — and even
athletics in general — because the
knock on being Jewish is that there's
only a handful of Jewish athletes, and
to see that, and especially to be in
the company of some, is pretty com-