Matt Ruchty knows sarcasm almost as well as he knows the penalty box.
Informed that his roughhouse style of hockey probably won't be too popular in Toledo, the former Bowling Green State University Falcon just laughed.
“Yeah, right,” Ruchty said.
It won't take long to find out.
When Toledo Storm coach Dennis Holland submitted his regular-season roster to the East Coast Hockey League office yesterday, Ruchty's name was on it. The 32-year-old is expected to play in tomorrow's 7:30 p.m. opener against Johnstown at the Sports Arena.
“You're not going to see a lot of speed out of me,” Ruchty said. “But you are going to see a lot of exciting hockey.”
The only thing the 11-season professional has done quickly over the years is roll up some pretty hefty penalty minute totals. He's spent the equivalent of more than two full days of his life in the sin bin. In 714 games covering stops in the American, International, United, West Coast and Colonial hockey leagues, Ruchty has recorded 3,112 penalty minutes. That's nearly one fight per game since he left BGSU in 1991.
“I told him I expect him to be a big, physical presence,” Holland said. “He'll make our players bigger and stronger. Our team is experienced, but not that old. He brings experience from the next level.”
He also brings a championship ring. Ruchty scored 26 regular season goals and recorded 348 penalty minutes for the AHL's Albany River Rats during the 1994-1995 season. During the Rats' run to the Calder Cup playoff crown, Ruchty led the team in scoring with five goals and 10 assists.
Ruchty played left wing then. With Toledo, he'll spend most of his time on defense. Listed very conservatively at 6-1, 225 pounds, the enforcer made the switch to defense about a year and a half ago with the B.C. Icemen of the UHL.
With B.C., he would occassionally move up front on the power-play as a big body with good hands in front of the net.
In Toledo, Ruchty will join defenseman Chris Slater as the Storm's second player-assistant coach. Under ECHL rules, only half of their salary applies toward the weekly $9,500 per team limit for up to 20 skaters.
“I'm here to be a leader and someday I'd like to be a coach,” said Ruchty, who applied this summer for non-playing, assistant-coaching positions with Grand Rapids in the AHL and Charlotte of the ECHL. “This is a great opportunity for me to come to a strong organization.”
Ruchty said he heard from Dayton and Cincinnati in the ECHL, as well as several WCHL teams, but chose Toledo.
“I heard a lot about the (Sports) Arena before I got here,” Ruchty said. “When I saw it, I said, `This is fabulous. It's built for old-time hockey. It's built for me.'”
ROSTER: Holland submitted the following roster to the league. ECHL clubs can carry as many as 18 skaters and two netminders, however, total team salary must be under the $9,500 cap:
Center: Richard Keyes, Shawn Maltby and Jeff Petrie.
Left Wing: James Patterson, Rob Thorpe and Tim Verbeek.
Right Wing: Alexandre Jacques, Jason Norrie and Magnus Nilsson.
Defense: Chris Slater, Mark McMahon, Chris Wismer, Raitis Ivanans, Ruchty and Ryan Gaucher, who was sent down from Cincinnati of the AHL by the parent Detroit Red Wings late Tuesday.
Goaltenders: Ryan Hoople and Joey MacDonald.
Defenseman B.J. Adams and forward Kelly Miller were placed on seven-day injured reserve.
Forward Yuri Moscevsky was released yesterday.
AIR TIME: The Storm is Brewing, the new name of the team's weekly radio show, is broadcast live on WCWA-AM 1230 from Mutz sports bar at the Oliver House on Thursdays from 7-8 p.m.
The Storm Report returns to Buckeye CableSystem's TV5 this year, but with a new format. The show now airs once each month for one hour beginning at noon on the first Sunday of the month. Previously, the program ran weekly for a half-hour.
Radio play-by-play voice Mark Thompson will host both shows, in addition to calling the games on WCWA.