Griffins, AHL mourn passing of Rufenach

The Grand Rapids Griffins are mourning the death of defenseman Bryan Rufenach, who passed away recently while traveling in Switzerland.

He was 23 years old.

“Bryan was an up-and-coming player in our organization who improved a great deal this season and had a bright future ahead of him,” said Griffins head coach Curt Fraser. “He was a really good kid – smart and quiet – who understood his role, worked hard every day he came to the rink and was a pleasure to coach. We’re going to miss him.

“Our deepest condolences and hearts go out to Bryan’s family and friends.”

A native of Barrie, Ont., Rufenach was the Detroit Red Wings’ fifth choice (208th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. After playing four seasons (2007-11) at Clarkson University, where he earned a degree in financial information and analysis, he made his pro debut with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye at the end of the 2010-11 season.

Signed by Grand Rapids last September, Rufenach made his AHL debut with the Griffins on Nov. 23, 2011 and appeared in 13 games with the club as a rookie, contributing two assists and 11 penalty minutes. He also played 54 games with Toledo, leading Walleye defensemen in scoring with 33 points (13-20—33).

Memorials and arrangements are pending.