Ryan Rutz selected as third Head Coach in Auburn Hockey history

The longtime Assistant Coach steps in with a chance to make history following Coach Richard’s resignation.
Ryan Rutz has plenty of experience coaching Auburn teams thanks to his time as an Assistant Coach alongside former Head Coach Marcel Richard. Image via Ajed Zimet, 2021.

Following the departure of a Head Coach, teams usually have to do some soul searching before hiring the next person to lead their program. Auburn Hockey had no such qualms after learning longtime bench boss Marcel Richard was departing to spend more time with family. Ryan Rutz was the unanimous choice.

Rutz has been a beloved figure in the Tigers’ locker room since joining the team four seasons ago as an assistant. Despite having little coaching experience prior to his tenure with Auburn, the Bashaw, Alberta native acclimated quickly to the role, fitting in instantly as someone players enjoyed being around.

Rutz brings with him a championship pedigree as a player that few coaches around the SECHC can match; the Wisconsin Superior product won the D-III NCAA National Championship during his college career with the 2001-02 Yellowjackets squad, before going on to win the first ever SPHL Championship as a Columbus Cottonmouth in the 2004-05 season.

Rutz was among the league’s top scorers during his time in the SPHL.

Rutz was a successful minor leaguer, ranking 10th and 11th in overall points scoring in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. After 279 games and 234 points in the SPHL, Rutz retired from playing professional hockey at the age of 30. The now 42-year-old former left winger brings the expertise of a player who has won at every level.

On his coaching style and goals with the team for this semester, Rutz had this to say: "I wanna have fun, first and foremost, but at the same time teach the guys the next step of what goes on later in life. Make these guys into men. That’s how I kinda coach. Our immediate goal for the rest of this season is to win the SECHC. We’ve been close, we’ve taken teams to overtime and been one goal away from going further. I’m trying to bring a winning, positive attitude to the team and get this thing - by this thing I mean Auburn Hockey - to a new level up there with Alabama and Georgia."

Auburn has never appeared in the SECHC Championship, coming closest in a semifinal loss to Ole Miss in 2019. Making the Final, let alone winning it, would be a tremendous step forward early on for Rutz and his players to take.

When asked about their new Head Coach, captain Blake Robison said: “Rutz is a player’s coach. All the guys love him and we’re excited for him to get this opportunity. He obviously played at a high level and knows the game. The program is definitely in good hands moving forward."

Following up the winningest and longest tenured head coach in Auburn Hockey history is no small task; Marcel Richard had an enormous impact on the program, leading Auburn to its first SECHC Tournament appearances, playoff victories, and wins over Alabama’s D-II program. If there’s anybody up to the task, the players assert that it’s Coach Rutz.