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Published: Wednesday, 7/11/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Wings honor ex-Walleye Rufenach

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Bryan Rufenach Bryan Rufenach
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Bryan Rufenach was honored at the Detroit Red Wings' development camp on Tuesday -- the same camp that the Toledo Walleye defenseman attended last summer.

Rufenach died in Switzerland on June 4 after touching a power line at a train station in Switzerland. The 23-year-old had been backpacking across Europe with a friend.

Rufenach, who was a rising prospect in the Red Wings' organization, played in 54 games last season for Toledo and was the team's third-leading scorer.

The Red Wings held a "Bryan Rufenach Day" Tuesday at the team's development camp in Traverse City, Mich. A ceremony to honor Rufenach's memory was held prior to the start of a scrimmage.

Rufenach's jersey also hung from the rafters at Centre I.C.E. Arena.

Rufenach attended the same development camp last summer and played in the prospects scrimmage.

Rufenach's family attend the event where former Red Wings players Dallas Drake, Chris Chelios, Jiri Fischer, and Aaron Downey signed autographs. Proceeds will benefit the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Skills Camp.

The Red Wings selected Rufenach in the seventh round of the 2007 NHL draft. The native of Barrie, Ont., signed his first pro contract with the Walleye on March 25, 2011.

Rufenach started a camp for young players last year, offering it free of charge. The camp will again be held in Lindsay, Ont., where Rufenach lived for the last 10 years.

His family posted a message on Facebook that stated Rufenach's father Doug and brother Mark will run the camp in August and offer it to youngsters ages 7 to 12.

"Bryan's ultimate goal was to pass on his love of hockey to young players," the family wrote. "He adored teaching kids, not only seeing them improve before his eyes but watching the joy they felt in realizing their own progress. This was the epitome of Bryan. A natural teacher who loved working with kids, he possessed both limitless patience and infinite passion for the game. His dream was to offer the camp every year regardless of where his hockey career led him."

The ultimate goal is to expand the camp to other cities in Ontario. Donations will help cover some of the overhead costs associated with running the camp.

"We know that Bryan would love for his legacy to live on in helping kids to find the same fun, love and passion that he felt every time he stepped onto the ice," the family said.

Contributions to the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Fund can be made via e-mail transfer or Paypal. The e-mail address is forbryanrufenach@gmail.com.

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.



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