CALGARY, AB — In 2015, the Coquitlam Junior Adanacs’ season ended with heartbreaking disappointment.
The team had lost the Minto Cup for the second straight season.
With graduating players like Challen Rogers and Michael Messenger leaving the team, Keegan Rittinger was left as one of the leaders on the Adanacs back-end going into 2016.
After helping lead his team to a perfect 21-0-0 season where they allowed the fewest goals in the league (118), the Adanacs looked to get back to the Minto Cup once again.
Unfortunately for Rittinger – before he could get another shot at the title – he broke his foot playing against the Delta Islanders in the BC Finals.
It was a crushing blow for him, but he did not complain.
Instead, he cheered his team on to win the Minto Cup over the Orangeville Northmen and end his Junior career with some jewelry.
“It’s pretty wild,” acknowledged Rittinger. “I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my Junior career – to win a Minto with my boys. It sucks that I wasn’t playing, of course. But at the end of the day, I was still part of the team and I came out with a ring, so I can’t complain.”
With the excitement of winning the Minto fresh in his mind, Rittinger entered the NLL Draft with hopes of being drafted.
But with the injury and no indication from teams whether they were interested, he wasn’t sure what would happen.
“I really had no idea what to expect going into the draft,” Rittinger explained. “It was just so surreal to hear my name called, especially to Calgary.”
In the middle of the third round, with the second of back-to-back picks, the Calgary Roughnecks selected the 6’1” right-hander.
According to himself, Rittinger is your typical stay-at-home defenceman, but he can adapt to any role, depending on his teammates.
Coach Curt Malawsky and company knew exactly what they were getting as Malawsky and Dane Dobbie had both previously spent time coaching Rittinger during his younger days.
“It’s just so exciting to possibly be part of something big like this and play with these pro guys that I’ve watched since I was a little kid,” said Rittinger. “Players on the floor like Dobbie – he’s coached me in the past – now I might get to play with him. It’s a big change up and something I’ve always wanted to do.”
“It’s great to see that Curt picked me up and now I’m going to have to bust my butt to play in front of him,” he laughed.
But before he can play, he’ll have to get back into shape.
Due to his injury, Rittinger admits that he won’t be in peak physical condition due to his inability to do much exercise.
“I’ve been in a boot for just about three months,” said a dejected Rittinger. “I’ve hardly been able to get any cardio in, I couldn’t even lift weights for the longest time because I couldn’t put any pressure on my foot. I had to change things up a little bit. I just got out of the cast. I’ve been swimming and riding the bike, doing the best I can.”
With training camp under a month away, Rittinger has faith that his abilities will stand out despite being a step behind when it comes to his fitness.
“I can’t get in top shape like I want, so I’m going to be a little out of it when it comes to try-outs, but I’m going to do my best and do my thing and see what happens,” said. Rittigner.
He’s working to get back to 100 percent, one step at a time.