In a season in which his point totals soared like an eagle, Minnesota Wilderness defenseman Max Ruoho has announced he will join the Purple Eagles of Niagara University.
The 21-year-old 3-year Jr. hockey veteran today made the announcement that he will play his college hockey at the NCAA division 1 institution based in Niagara, NY. Ruoho finished the regular season leading all Wilderness defenders in points at 42. His 41 assists also set a new team single-season record for blueliners and were second highest in the NAHL. In five post-season games, he has added two more assists.
“We are really excited for Max’, said Wilderness Head Coach/General Manager Dave Boitz. “He has had many peaks and valleys throughout his junior hockey experience and dealt with all of it admirably. He has been a great player for our team and no doubt he will be a great fit at Niagara.”
By going to Niagara, Ruoho will be returning to the western NY region where he began his Jr. career. The native of Verona, WI, spent his rookie season of 2019-20 with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the OJHL. He then moved on to Austin, MN, where he played his second Jr. A campaign with the NAHL’s Bruins. In 2017-18, Ruoho also skated in two games for the USHL’s Madison Capitols.
When he gets to Niagara, Ruoho will join another former Wilderness player on the team roster. Goaltender Jake Sibell spent this past season as a freshman with the Purple Eagles, after a 4-year Jr. career that included spending his rookie season of 2017-18 with Minnesota. Since its inception as Jr. A program in Cloquet in 2012-13, the Wilderness have sent a total of five players to the Purple Eagles; the others being Dylan Mills (2016-17), Zach Mills (2016-17) and Alex Truscott (2017-18).
A commitment to an NCAA school for hockey is nothing new for Max’s family. His sister, Ryan, just completed her first season with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and his dad, Dan, played four seasons at Northern Michigan University. Dan Ruoho’s career with the Wildcats included the 1990-91 season, when they won an NCAA title.
Ruoho and the Wilderness will begin their 2nd round playoff series this weekend, with at least two games in Alaska to take on the Anchorage Wolverines.