Getting a real job after college can wait just a little longer for Ross Ring-Jarvi and Winston Day Chief.
For now, it’s time for them to get just a little taste of hockey at the professional level.
“This has been a great opportunity to see what this lifestyle’s like,” said Ring-Jarvi, an Anoka, Minn., native and a senior at Gustavus-Adolphus University in St. Paul.
Ring-Jarvi, a physics major and philosophy minor who included South Dakota in a 28-day cross-country cycling tour last summer, has teaching, lab work and engineering as well as pro hockey on his radar. After a few days of skating with the Rush, hockey has the early lead.
“I’m going to weigh the options and right now I’m leaning towards this because it’s been amazing so far,” he said.
Day Chief, of Standoff, Alberta, is a member of the Blackfoot Tribescored 23 goals and 24 assists in three years at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, and after arriving in Rapid City quickly took note of the Rush’s fan base.
“This is 10 times better than anything we had (for fan support),” Day Chief said. “Everyone has been very welcoming.”
Playoff teams are allowed to bolster their rosters with a maximum of two amateur skaters in case of injuries. Teams can also sign emergency goaltenders as needed.
Ring-Jarvi earned spots on four All-MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) teams and was named to the All-MIAC Sportsmanship Team and All-Rookie team in 2008-2009.
Ring Jarvi scored 46 goals and 84 assists for 130 points. His sophomore year in 2009-2010 was his best, with 16 goals and 24 assists for 40 points.
He has noticed the difference between the college and minor-level levels after his first practices with the Rush.
“The overall skill is at another level, everything from catching passes to giving passes,” he said. “College hockey is a little more rush up and down the ice and play at 100 miles an hour both directions, and this is a little more slow-it-down.”
Day Chief played his junior hockey with the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the British Columbia Hockey League and scored 10 points on four goals and six assists in 27 games for the University of Alaska-Anchorage in 2007-2008, then finished at Lethbridge, where he’ll earn a degree in kinesiology, the study of human motion.
Rush head coach Joe Ferras said Ring-Jarvi brings speed, energy and a strong shot to the table. Day Chief possesses hockey sense, the ability to slow the game down and sure hands.
“They both come from tremendous programs. We’ll have no
problems getting them both in, that’s for sure. They’re both going to be able to adjust to this level,” Ferras said.
Day Chief prefers actual game experience to gauge his ability to adjust to the uptick in talent and tempo.
“I work down low in the corners and I go to the net pretty good,” he said. “I watched a couple games, but it’ll be hard to tell how I will be until I play.”
Amateur tryout contract players have made their mark, as demonstrated during Rapid City’s championship run in 2010.
Sacred Heart University defenseman Corey Laurysen was one of two amateurs signed that year by the Rush, and he went on to score an overtime game-winner goal in Game 3 of the conference finals with the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.
Ring-Jarvi just hopes a similar opportunity comes his way.
“I’m obviously going to have to be playing my best just to compete out here,” he said. “I’m just hoping to get a chance and do my best to contribute