The Sioux Falls Stampede are a proud USHL organization and have high expectations every single season. For the past two seasons, the organization has not qualified for the Clark Cup Playoffs. That is the first time in their storied history that playoff hockey has not been a part of Sioux Falls for two springs in a row.
As a result of this, over the summer ownership went to look for a different staff to help the Stampede get back to where the town expects them to be, winning championships. The first head coach hire, Rob Rassey left to take an assistant job with Michigan that opened a few weeks after the Stampede announced his hire. As a result, former Miami (OH) assistant Eric Rud was offered the job. Eight days later Rud has an Assistant Coach with experience at the Division One level and at many other stops in the hockey world, Ryan Cruthers.
He has experience at all three tiers of junior hockey as a coach and someone who develops players. Cruthers is a big part of why the Charlotte Rush won two national championships one year ago ( Premier and Elite). He is an honest and up front person who has helped develop players to get to college hockey.
As to the opportunity that arose Cruthers was direct. He said that “things change quickly.” Initially Cruthers liked what Rassey had planned to do, and the vision Rud shared with him is no different. He praised new General Manager Tony Gasparini who facilitated everything. Cruthers said that “it seems like a perfect fit.”
From his time in Charlotte alone, there are countless examples of Cruthers’ development style paying off. He helped develop Rush alum and now AIC star Blake Bennett to get college exposure. Bennett went from a player that would have struggled to make the Rush to one that is now one of the best scorers in college hockey. Cruthers spent time with Blake as an individual and helped him learn what it takes to make it at the next level, and it has paid off. He expects to work with the Stampede in a similar fashion. Cruthers has helped develop a winning culture with the Rush , and a model organization for the USPHL. He expects to do the same with the Stampede.
Cruthers took the job in part because Rud and he share similar views. That similarity comes to the “player development piece of it and how important it was to develop the individual.” Life happens fast, Cruthers is almost to Sioux Falls today with the help of multiple Rush coaches who took turns driving in shifts with him to make the 1300 plus mile trek. Camp starts this weekend for the Stampede and their preseason schedule starts early next month.
The Stampede are where Cruthers can focus on his main thing, coaching. Cruthers partners will continue to help run the USPHL teams his group owns in Charlotte and Columbia.
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