Wilderness defenseman Ruoho makes NCAA DI commitment
The Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are pleased to announce that former Top Prospects defenseman and NAPHL alum Max Ruoho has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the Niagara University Purple Eagles of Atlantic Hockey.
Ruoho, 21, is currently in his third and final season of playing junior hockey and his second season overall playing in the NAHL. The 6’0/175 lbs. native Verona, WI, led all Wilderness defensemen in scoring during the 2021-22 regular season with 42 points (1 goal, 41 assists) in 56 games played. His 41 assists was 2nd among all NAHL defensemen this season and his 42 points ranked tied for 4th.
“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 junior season with the NAHL’s Bruins, recording 12 points in 42 games played.
He was also selected to and played in the 2021 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the Central Division team.
Ruoho is another great example of the NAPHL to NAHL ladder of development. He played three seasons in the NAPHL for the Madison Capitols prior to his junior hockey career. He appeared in 27 career games with the Madison 18U team and recorded 11 points and he appeared in 39 career games with the Madison 16U team and recorded 23 points. He also played in the 2018 NAPHL 16U All-Star Game.
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.