Photo: Sean Flynn Photography/Quad City Mallards; Adam Hatt/Norwich University
The Quad City Mallards have re-signed defenseman Nicholas Rioux and signed forward Kyle Thomas, the Mallards announced today.
Rioux, 28, was a finalist for the Central Hockey League’s Most Outstanding Defenseman award last season. The 6’ 1”, 205-pound Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec, native finished eighth among CHL defensemen in assists (27) last year while also scoring five times to total 32 points in 58 games. Rioux posted a plus/minus rating of +16.
Rioux last season also played six American Hockey League games with the Iowa Wild.
“Rioux was a really important guy for us last season. He was one of the top defensemen in the league and a guy who can play against other team’s top forwards,” said Mallards coach and general manager Terry Ruskowski. “We’re looking forward to him coming back and filling that role for us again.”
Rioux joined the Mallards after scoring seven goals and registering 27 points with a plus/minus of +3 for the CHL’s Bloomington Blaze in 2012-13. The durable Rioux played in each of the Blaze’s 66 regular season games and missed just a single game over his first two professional campaigns.
Rioux first played under Ruskowski as a rookie with the CHL’s Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in 2011-12. Rioux scored five times, produced 21 points and turned in a plus/minus of +5 in his first professional season.
Rioux turned pro after a three-year college career at St. Cloud State during which he totaled three goals and four assists in 26 games. Rioux played two seasons of junior hockey in the British Columbia League- with the Quesnel Millionaires and Prince George Spruce Kings- before heading to St. Cloud.
Rioux joins Benjaimin Dieude-Fauvel, Matt Duffy, Darren McMillan and Mike Monfredo as the fifth veteran defenseman to re-sign with the Mallards this summer.
Thomas, 24, broke into the pro ranks last season with the ECHL’s Reading Royals, but played just six games due to injury.
In his last full season, Thomas scored 13 goals and totaled 29 points in 28 games as a senior at Division III Norwich University in 2012-13. Over a highly decorated four-year career at Norwich Thomas scored 68 goals and recorded 128 points in 114 games.
“Kyle comes from a really good program at Norwich, which is one of the elite teams in Division III,” said Ruskowski. “What really impressed me is that he went to Minnesota Wild development camp twice. [Minnesota Wild assistant to the general manager and Iowa Wild general manager] Jim Mill told me he can really skate and that he’s a good hockey player who should do well with us. Jim Mill knows his hockey, so once I heard that I didn’t hesitate to bring Kyle in.”
His freshman campaign was Thomas’s most productive at Norwich. The 6’ 1”, 190-pound Waltham, Massachusetts, native led the team and finished third in the nation with 23 goals and totaled 32 points while helping the Cadets to the national title. For his efforts Thomas was named 2009-10 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference-East Rookie of the Year and was selected to the conference All-Rookie team.
The hardware he earned for his sterling rookie season was just the start of a series of individual honors for Thomas. As a sophomore in 2010-11 he was an Honorable Mention All-Conference selection. His junior year saw Thomas make the Division III All-American Second Team, the ECAC-East All-Conference First Team and the New England Hockey Writers Association Division III All-Star Team. He capped off his college career by earning a spot on the All-Conference Second Team as a senior.
Thomas not only piled up ample individual honors at Norwich but was also a key part of a hugely successful team. In addition to winning the 2010 national championship, the Cadets reached the NCAA Frozen Four and claimed the ECAC-East regular season title each of his four years while also securing a trio of conference tournament crowns.
2014-15 Mallards season tickets are now on sale. Ticket packages are available to meet almost any budget. A limited edition season ticket holder Mallard jersey, 12 additional ticket vouchers per seat and free parking are among a host of exclusive benefits available to season ticket holders. For more season ticket information fans can call the Mallards’ business office at 309-277-1364.