CEDAR PARK — Brett Ritchie was supposed to be a bystander on New Year’s Eve.
The 21-year-old forward was planning to spend the night in Austin and watch on TV as his brother, Nick, played for Canada in the 2015 World Junior Championships.
Instead, Ritchie learned about noon Wednesday that he was getting his first NHL call-up and proceeded to fly to Dallas. Making his NHL debut after totaling 18 points in 22 games for the Texas Stars this season, Ritchie scored on his first shot in Dallas’ 6-0 shutout of the Arizona Coyotes.
“There’s a lot of things going through my head right now,” Ritchie told reporters after the game. “I’m sure my phone is blowing up. I wish my parents would have been here, but they are in Montreal with my brother at the World Junior Tournament. It’s an exciting time for me and the family for sure, and I’m just happy to be here.”
Brett’s call-up was the highlight of an impressive week for the Ritchie family.
Over the weekend, Brett had five goals in three American Hockey League games, including a hat trick against the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday. The goal outburst earned him AHL player of the week honors for the first time.
Nick, a 19-year-old Anaheim Ducks draft pick, helped Canada to a 4-0 start at the 2015 World Junior Championship that included a 5-3 win against the United States on New Year’s Eve.