TOLEDO, OH (Press Release) - Toledo Walleye defenseman Bryan Rufenach passed away this week while traveling in Switzerland. He was 23 years old.
Walleye head coach Nick Vitucci said, "The entire team's thoughts and prayers are with Bryan's family as they get through this difficult time. Bryan was a great teammate and would play any role asked of him."
Rufenach was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the seventh round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He was signed to his first professional contract by the Walleye on March 25, 2011, after four years at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. He played in the final six games of Toledo's 2011-12 season, scoring one goal with one assist and eight penalty minutes.
The Barrie, Canada native started the 2011-12 campaign with the Walleye and excelled in his 54 games with the team. He displayed tremendous offensive skill, punctuated by a career-high four goals scored in a 7-4 loss vs. Chicago on November 9. Rufenach finished the season with 13 goals for Toledo – ranking him third in the ECHL for defenseman. He added 20 assists and logged 34 penalty minutes for the Walleye. Rufenach was promoted to Grand Rapids (AHL) on three different occasions, picking up two assists in a total of 13 games with the Griffins.