Taking Liberties With… Coto de Caza native, Colorado College goalie Ryan Ruck
Position: Goaltender, Colorado College (NCHC, NCAA D-I)
Hometown: Coto de Caza
California Youth Teams: LA Selects, Orange County Hockey Club
California Rubber: Do you have a favorite hockey memory from your time playing in California?
Ryan Ruck: My 14U year, I was playing with Eric Comrie, Chase DeLeo and many other outstanding players on the Selects (in 2009). We went up to Alaska for regionals and won. Then we went to Frisco, Tex., for nationals. Ryan Siroky broke his femur. It was gruesome. But one of the coolest things was how the team rallied around him. I remember him being in a wheelchair holding the trophy up. Even the team photo at the end, he was holding that trophy. I have a mouse pad made from that picture.
CR: That group won a couple of national titles and nearly captured a third. What was so unique about it?
RR: Not only were they very gifted but they were very disciplined. I remember when either coach Rick Kelly or Bill Comrie would talk to us about systems or line combinations or adjustments, it just happened. It was incredible. Even at the college level, it’s hard for guys to do that right away, much less 13- and 14-year-olds. The focus was incredible.
CR: Who were some of your hockey influences?
RR: From a team perspective, those coaches – Rick Kelly, Bill Comrie and Sandy Gasseau – were incredible. From a goalie perspective, James Jensen helped me a ton. And being able to skate with and learn from Eric Comrie, even though he was a year younger than me. His time management from a young age was incredible. There were other goalies I competed against, such as Reed Kinsey, who always found a way even though he was shorter, and Merrick Madsen, who was on the other end – he’s a giant. They proved the most important thing was work ethic.
CR: When you return to California, do you have a go-to meal?
RR: I hope there aren’t scouts reading this, but as soon as I leave the airport, I have to grab In-N-Out. And any type of Mexican food in California is a treat. There’s a place in Trabuco Canyon called Miguel’s and they make unbelievable tamales. I always make it a goal to get that. At In-N-Out, it’s a double-double with fries and the pink lemonade.
CR: Are you particular about any of your gear?
RR: I used to be. I learned from Eric (Comrie). He was custom ordering pads at 12 years old. Even though he was younger, I still looked up to him. I got really into specs, what the pros wear and why. Why a strap is better than another. Once I wore Reebok pads in Des Moines (USHL), I just kept them. I wore a Brown chestguard, like (former Kings goalie) Jamie Storr did, until my senior year. Then I tried some new things – Bauer pads and the Vaughn chest guard. They’re unbelievably light. I finally just switched. Now I go with the flow. I wear True skates. They do a molding of your foot. The first time I put them on, my feet didn’t hurt. It’s always good to try out new things and see if you like them.
CR: Colorado College played an outdoor game earlier this month, but you’ve experienced this already in college. What do you recall about the experience?
RR: My sophomore year at Northeastern (Ruck is a graduate transfer at CC), we played New Hampshire at the Frozen Fenway. I absolutely loved the experience. Sitting in the Red Sox dressing room, seeing yourself on the big screen at Fenway was incredible. Words can’t describe the atmosphere and the experience. It was very cold, maybe 15 degrees. Growing up in California, you never get to play pond hockey, so any chance you get to skate without a roof above you is breathtaking.
CR: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
RR: (Anaheim Ducks goalie) Jean-Sebastien Giguere, because I got to see him in person so many times, both practicing and playing. What really resonated with me was in 2007, I believe his daughter was just born and having an eye complication. Ilya Bryzgalov had to play a whole series but ‘Jiggy’ battled back and won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks. That resiliency really stuck with me.
CR: What is one thing people may not realize about college hockey?
RR: The biggest thing is the time management and the time commitment to get everything done. Keeping up with school and practice, it takes up an enormous amount of dedication to get everything you want done in a day. You’re going from Point A to Point B as fast as you can. No one ever told me how detailed you have to be. I had to set my clock ahead five minutes and set up a daily schedule so I wasn’t that late guy.
Photo/Colorado College Athletics
— Compiled by Chris Bayee
(Feb. 25, 2020)