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.