Tuesday, October 18, 2011
A Tale of Two Goalies
Jordan Ruby is ready to move on in the next phase of his hockey career. He is combining his hockey life with an academic one. He is now enrolled as a full time student at the Rochester Institute of Technology, a school which plays at the highest level in American College hockey-Division One.
Originally from Tavistock, Ontario, Ruby spent the past two years with the Wellington Dukes as their Number One goaltender. He led the team to the Royal Bank Cup, standing between the pipes for almost one hundred games, including the regular season and the playoffs. He became one of the best junior goaltenders in the country, earning his scholarship at RIT.
He was a leader off the ice as well, and became an important part of the community. Ne was always most approachable, and overwhelming with his good nature and kindness, especially with young fans.
“He was a very focused individual,” Dukes’ coach Marty Abrams told me recently. “He prepared everything in his life very carefully, meticulous in his ways. He was highly respected by his teammates, and was a positive influence on many of them. He became a leader, not only with the team, but in the community. All reports from RIT indicate he will have an outstanding college career as well.”
James Reimer is about three years older than Ruby. He hails from Western Canada, and spent three years at the Major Junior level with the Red Deer Rebels in the Western Hockey League. He was drafted in the third round, 99th place, by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006. Following stints in the American Hockey League and the East Coast Hockey League, he was invited to spend some time at the end of last season with the parent Toronto Maple Leafs.
He made the best of that invitation, playing in 37 games for the Leafs. He won 20 games, lost ten, and recorded three shutouts. He established himself as a potential number one goaltender for the Leafs prior to the current season. He has helped the Leafs bolt from the gate this season, winning the first three games, losing the fourth Monday night in overtime.
Reimer and Ruby are goaltenders. In their own quiet manners, they are leaders. They are both devout religiously. They are Mennonites. For many of us who know little about their religion, this may come as a bit of a shock. There are very few professional athletes who come from Mennonite communities. I asked a member of one of the conservative branches of the faith about this when I was in Alberta for the Royal Bank Cup. “We encourage our youth to play within the community.”
Reimer’s parents and Ruby’s parents took a slightly different approach. “My parents wanted me to experience the game at the highest level I could attain,” Reimer told me recently. “I played all kinds of sports outside the community---soccer, baseball, swimming.”
Ruby also had the support of his parents throughout his hockey career. He was encouraged to play on the all star teams in his area, always moving to the higher levels with his parents’ blessing.
There are relatively few Mennonites in the world today, less than two million. They are scattered world-wide, with a large population in Canada. Essentially, they are devout Christians, and have a long standing tradition of pacifism. There are twelve different groups in Canada, ranging from ultra conservatives to relatively modern groups. The conservative Mennonites continue to dress traditionally and follow “old order” ways: horse and buggy, no electricity, no television!
Both Ruby and Reimer come from communities that are more modern in their ways. Reimer put it this way: “I appreciate gasoline and electricity!”
I shared a few of Ruby’s accomplishments with Reimer. He had never heard of the former Duke. I gave him a gentle caution in that regard, indicating that some day Jordan Ruby might be after his job. Reimer smiled. He has learned how to handle challenges.
As the season unfolds, we will keep an eye on the careers of both of these individuals. Great teammates, great leaders, important assets to their communities.
October 18, 2011