Thunder agree to terms with Ruikka, Blazek
Wichita, Kan. – The Wichita Thunder announced that they have agreed to terms with defensemen Ryan Ruikka and Andrew Blazek for the 2015-16 season.
Ruikka, 27, returns stateside after playing the last two seasons in Europe. A native of Chelsea, Mich., Ruikka played a four-year collegiate career at Boston University tallying 19 points (4g-15a) in 97 games. As a freshman, he won a National Championship during the 2009 season and was named as an assistant captain during his senior year. The 6-foot, 200-pound blue liner spent his rookie season with TUTO Hockey of Finland2 and earned a bronze medal while collecting 16 points in 42 games. Last season, Ruikka played for GAP of the French League and claimed a league championship.
After graduating, he received the College Prize for Excellence after earning a bachelor’s and master’s in the College of Arts and Sciences in Economics. He was named to the NCAA (Hockey East) All-Academic Team two years in a row (2009-10 and 2010-11).
Blazek, 26, enters his second full season as a pro and first in Wichita. A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., he played four years at Robert Morris University totaling 51 points (17g-34a) in 129 games. During his freshman year, he made a position change around Christmas and has played on the blue line ever since. As a senior, his teammates voted him as the Defensive Player of the Year as he was fourth in the NCAA in blocked shots. That same season, his team won the Atlantic Hockey Championship before losing to Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Blazek joined the Cincinnati Cyclones after his senior year, appearing in six regular season games and 20 games in the 2014 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Last season, he played in 12 games with the Cyclones before being dealt to South Carolina. Blazek also earned a call-up to the Worcester Sharks of the American Hockey League, skating in three games. He’s no stranger to Kansas as he was a part of the Topeka Roadrunners of the NAHL in 2008-09. He tallied 29 points (17g-12a) and appeared in nine playoff games during his time in the capital city.