Former scoring leader Cruthers returns to men’s hockey as assistant coach

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Former scoring leader Cruthers returns to men’s hockey as assistant coach

PITTSBURGH -- The men's hockey team stands for the national anthem against Bowling Green on 10/12/18 (David Auth/RMU Sentry Media).

PITTSBURGH -- The men's hockey team stands for the national anthem against Bowling Green on 10/12/18 (David Auth/RMU Sentry Media).

PITTSBURGH -- The men's hockey team stands for the national anthem against Bowling Green on 10/12/18 (David Auth/RMU Sentry Media).

PITTSBURGH -- The men's hockey team stands for the national anthem against Bowling Green on 10/12/18 (David Auth/RMU Sentry Media).

Adam Melluso, Contributor

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MOON TOWNSHIP —One of the most dynamic and prolific scorers in Robert Morris men’s hockey history is back on the bench at Neville Island, but this time he’s trading in his helmet, skates and pads for a whiteboard and pen.

The RMU men’s hockey team announced via their Twitter account Monday afternoon that former team captain and offensive scoring machine Ryan Cruthers (’08) has been hired as an assistant coach to Derek Schooley for the upcoming 2019-20 Atlantic Hockey season.

Cruthers came to RMU in 2005 following two years at the United States Military Academy. Over the course of the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, the latter of which he spent as team captain, Cruthers experienced breakout years that firmly entrenched him in breaking statistical records for offense at the time in NCAA Division I men’s hockey. In his two seasons with Robert Morris, Cruthers notched 39 goals and 86 points, which not only led the Colonials for that time period in scoring, but also was good for third in Division I in points per game in his senior season, and earned him the College Hockey America Player of the Year award.

After college, Cruthers had several flourishing offensive stints in both the American Hockey League and the East Coast Hockey League. He started with the Lake Erie (now Cleveland) Monsters and was the first RMU alumnus to skate in the top developmental league of the NHL, but spent most of the remainder of his pro career with the Reading Royals of the ECHL, where in 429 games, he notched 140 goals and 389 total points.

However, coaching is nothing new for Cruthers, as after his retirement in 2015, he spent time behind the bench, mainly as a head coach, for several different USA Hockey organizations at both the Tier 1 and Tier 2 levels. He began his coaching career with the Charlotte Rush of the United States Premier Hockey League before moving to the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League in 2017-18 to serve as an interim head coach, and this past season served as the head bench boss for the Corpus Christi Ice Rays of the North American Hockey League all before returning to the Steel City.

In a statement to rmucolonials.com, Cruthers noted, “I’m really excited…this is an unbelievable opportunity. I was part of building the RMU program and I’m excited to be back.”

Head coach Derek Schooley praised Cruthers’s contributions offensively with the Colonials and his previous coaching experience which he believes will translate on the ice in order to bring the Colonials to the next level, and maybe bring them just their second Atlantic Hockey title of which they have come so close to in years past.

“Since retirement from pro hockey, Ryan has gained tremendous experience coaching in two of the premier junior leagues in the country,” remarked Schooley. “With that, we believe he will help our hockey program to take the next step. The fact that he’s an alum adds value, as well.”

“Ryan was a very talented offensive player,” Schooley continued. “We believe, with his experiences, he will help to continue to develop our forwards and help our power play.”

Robert Morris will test out its new-look team and coaching staff for the first time in in-game action when it opens the 2019-20 campaign on Oct. 5 at Colonials Arena against WCHA powerhouse Michigan Tech at 7:05 p.m.

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