It came as a bit of a shock to the team he finished up with in 2014-15, the team that he helped to the Czech Extraliga finals. However, Ontario Hockey League grad Stefan Ruzicka has called it a career after a decent pro hockey career that seemed to be on the rise right at the end.
Stefan Ruzicka – OHL
Ruzicka played two years in the OHL, 2003-04 and 2004-05, both with the Owen Sound Attack. The Attack selected Stefan third overall at the 2003 CHL Import Draft behind just Michal Sersen who went to the Rimouski Oceanic and Ivan Baranka who went to the Everett Silvertips. All three of those first picks were from Slovakia.
In his first year with Owen Sound, Ruzicka led all OHL rookies with 34 goals and 38 assists for 72 points over 62 regular season games. He led the Attack in goals and tied for the overall scoring lead with Patrick Jarrett. He earned the Second Team All-Star position at right wing. Yet, when it come to rookie of the year honours, it was Bryan Little of the Barrie Colts winning the Emms Family Award.
The following year, Stefan dropped to fourth in scoring on a much stronger Owen Sound team with 70 points, behind Brad Richardson, Bobby Ryan and Patrick Jarrett. His 37 goals tied him for fifth in the OHL with teammate Bobby Ryan, David Lomas of the Windsor Spitfires and Jamie Tardif of the Peterborough Petes.
During both his Ontario Hockey League seasons, Ruzicka played for Slovakia at the IIHF World Juniors. In the first year in Finland, the Slovaks lost to the Czechs in the quarter-final game and finished sixth in the tournament. Stefan’s six points in six games placed him a point outside the top ten for the tournament.
In 2005 in the United States, Stefan put up identical numbers as the year before with three goals and three assists over six games. Slovakia did not qualify for the playoff round but did go a perfect 3-0 in the relegation round.
Over his OHL career, Ruzicka totalled 71 goals and 71 assists for 142 points over 124 regular season games. In 15 playoff games, he added 13 points.
Stefan Ruzicka – Pro Career
Ruzicka was a third round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, 81st overall. He was drafted out of HK Nitra in Slovakia’s Extraliga Tier 2 and before he crossed the Atlantic to play for the Attack.
His first North American pro action came in 2003-04 after the Attack were eliminated by the Guelph Storm in seven games in the opening round of the playoffs. Stefan appeared in two regular season and three Calder Cup playoff games with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League.
Since 2005-06, Ruzicka has played pro hockey in the NHL, AHL, KHL, Switzerland’s NLA and the Czech Extraliga. In the National Hockey League, Stefan played a total of 55 regular season games with the Philadelphia Flyers over the 2005-06 and 2007-08 seasons.
In the KHL, he shone with Spartak Moscow in 2011-12. Ruzicka tied for eighth in the league with 22 goals, just five behind the leader. In 2013-14, Stefan helped Avangard Omsk win the booby prize, the Nadezhda Cup. This is a KHL tournament that is held for the teams that did not qualify for the post season. Omsk won in the finals over Dinamo Minsk. Ruzicka led the tournament in scoring with six goals and seven assists for 13 points over ten games. The Nadezhda Cup was not competed for in 2014-15.
This past season, 2014-15, Stefan split his season between three teams in three different leagues. He began with nine games as a member of Lausanne HC in Switzerland’s NLA. He then moved back to the KHL to play eleven games for the Slovakia based HC Slovan Bratislava.
Ruzicka finished out the year with HC Trinec in the Czech Extraliga. He appeared in seven regular season games with Trinec. In the playoffs, he played in 18 games with the team reaching the finals before falling to HC Litvinov in the finals. Stefan led the playoffs with ten assists.