Being comfortable on Adrian College’s southeastern Michigan campus took some getting used to for Nick Reuter.
“It was difficult to come to a school where I didn’t know anyone,” said the reserved Reuter, a 2009 Crystal Lake South graduate. “I think I’ve kind of opened up. It’s been the perfect place for me.”
Those who didn’t know Reuter are sure to be aware of his name now.
Last month, the sophomore right wing had five goals and three assists in five games at the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division III national tournament to win Most Valuable Player honors and lead Adrian to its second consecutive national title.
“It was awesome,” Reuter said. “It was definitely unexpected. I was especially proud of our team and the way we came together.”
Adrian (30-3) finished the season with 12 consecutive victories as Reuter collected seven goals and nine assists in a regular season limited by a separated left shoulder.
“He’s kind of an underappreciated player,” Adrian coach Trevor Markovich said. “He’s not very vocal. He’s a quiet kid. He leads by example.”
The example Reuter set at nationals was to cause havoc in front of the opposing goal.
“A lot of my goals were just grind goals, being in front of the net,” he said.
“He’s not a flashy skater,” Markovich said. “[Opponents] overlook him. He’s got to play with someone who can get him the puck. Ninety-nine percent of the time, he’ll find the back of the net.”
Midway through the season, Reuter’s biggest challenge was finding his way on the ice after injuring his shoulder while being checked.
While he was sitting out, Reuter remained near his teammates.
“When he was out, he was with us on the bench, getting water bottles and doing anything we needed,” Markovich said. “He’s a phenomenal kid.”
The timing of the injury actually worked in Reuter’s favor, according to Markovich, who said Reuter was able to rest the shoulder over the school’s holiday break.
When the team returned to campus, Markovich’s decision to get him back in the lineup was easy, though the coach was still undecided on who to pair with Reuter.
“He’s a guy that you’ve got to get back in the lineup,” Markovich said. “He played on three different lines. … He had an up-and-down season.”
Eventually, Markovich settled on pairing Reuter with senior left wing Russ Rizzo and junior center Doug Raymond.
“That’s the line that carried us all the way to the title,” Markovich said.
Reuter played on a line with Rizzo last season, “so we had some chemistry,” he said.
In the national tournament in Springfield, Mo., Reuter began Adrian’s repeat performance with two goals in a 6-0 opening-round win against Farmingdale State College. He continued to thrive as the Bulldogs outscored five opponents by a 27-4 count.
“He showed what he can do,” Markovich said.
Adrian’s goal for next season is simple, according to Reuter.
“We plan to try and do it again,” he said.