Skating with the Kings of hockey
At the 2006 National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs, Sean Oâ€™Donnel from the Anaheim Ducks fires and scores the first goal against the Edmonton Oilers, and the crowd goes wild. The Ruh family wildly cheers out of happiness. Their attention isnâ€™t turned to the television, however, but on their six-year old Riley Ruh scoring his first goal into his newly bought hockey net.
Ruh, now a freshman, grew up watching college hockey on television and began recreationally playing hockey at age six with just a wooden stick, a tennis ball and ice skating lessons at Anaheim ICE. Ruh entered the world of ice hockey with his first travel team, the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, when he was seven years old. As of March 2019, Ruh holds the nationâ€™s highest rank for scoring the most points in the 15 and Under division.
United States Hockey League and college scouts look into potential candidates to recruit and draft junior athletes into their hockey teams. Last summer, Ruh got scouted for the first time when the Boston Management Group approached him to network with other teams. Since then, he has been approached by two other scouts.
â€śI didn’t know really what was going on. It was really cool to get talked to for the first time. I was nervous for sure, but it was still good to get talked to,â€ť Ruh said. â€śIt is really good knowing that people want you to play for their teams. It just makes you feel really good and it really boosts your confidence.â€ť
Ruh plays left wing in his current travel team, the Los Angeles Jr. Kings, which is ranked 26th nationally. The team practices at the Toyota Sports Center every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in the afternoon. In addition, the team competes in home games at the Toyota Sports Center or in away games at the Anaheim ICE Rink on Sundays. Once a month on Tuesdays, the team flies out of state to compete against other Tier 1 teams; over the years, Ruh has traveled to Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to help his team secure a slot at nationals. He has competed in seven tournaments this year and in over 100 throughout his nine-year hockey career.
â€śI always compete in anything and everything I do. The competitive nature of hockey is higher than other sports. You have to compete with everything for it and that helps me with life to not take anything super lightly,â€ť Ruh said. â€śIn the team, thereâ€™s never a moment when we donâ€™t talk about hockey. We always talk about what we could have done differently.â€ť
Currently, Ruh is the set guard on the varsity boys water polo team but misses practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays to accommodate his hockey practice schedule. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Ruhâ€™s mother, who is the manager of the Los Angeles Jr. Kings, and father drive Ruh to practice during sixth period.
â€śThe coaches were really good this year with my schedule. I’m really grateful that they can adjust to my hockey schedule since I miss water polo games for tournaments, so Iâ€™m really glad they kept me on the team,â€ť Ruh said. â€ś[My parents] are the best because not a lot of parents would put up with that. They help me out with whatever I need help with if it is with hockey, water polo and school.â€ť
In the future, Ruh wants to pursue hockey at the collegiate level for Penn State University, Boston College or Arizona State University and eventually compete in the NHL.
â€śRight now, it’s almost everything. I donâ€™t know what I would do without it.,â€ť Ruh said. â€śAll the friends I have made and traveling and meeting new people every week is really special. Itâ€™s a once in a lifetime experience.â€ť
By Sherman Wu, Print editor-in-chief
Photo courtesy of Riley Ruh