FRASER, Mich. – After his freshman season playing for Eastern Michigan University’s ACHA Division I team in 2013-14, Jacob Rutkoske decided to take a step back and reevaluate his hockey and academic future.
Joining the Metro Jets for the 2014-15 season and again this year has paid off as the steady defenseman has committed to play NCAA Division III hockey at Northland College, a school with an enrollment of 800 located in Ashland, Wis.
The Lumberjacks are also a member of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Conference, a league that also includes Michigan’s two D-III teams with Adrian College and Finlandia University.
“Before I made any decisions, I wanted to visit the campuses and get a feel for what would be the best fit for me,” said Rutkoske, who turns 21 on April 25. “After visiting Northland's campus and hockey rink, I knew that's where I wanted to be. Coach (Seamus) Gregory and Coach (Mike) Lennon at Northland made it an easy choice for me and my family.
“Northland has a beautiful campus right on Lake Superior, which drew me in right away. The small class sizes and strong academics made it stand out to me the most. They also have a great graduation rate and placement rate after graduation, which is extremely important for my future after hockey. The hockey team’s involvement with the surrounding community of Ashland made it feel like home.”
Last season, the Macomb, Mich., native compiled two goals and 11 points in 42 games and in 32 games this year, Rutkoskse has two goals and 20 points and has a plus-34 rating. He was plus-24 last year.
“On behalf of the entire organization, we would like to congratulate Jake on his commitment,” said Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville. “He had several options and after a few visits to different campuses, he and his family determined Northland was the best fit. Their coaching staff is excited and he will bring a consistent game to the program. He can be paired with just about anyone on the ice. He is cerebral and a positionally-sound d-man. Jake has been a big part of the Jets’ success the past two seasons and provides balance in our lineup every night.”
Quenneville also noted that several other Metro players will be announcing commitments over the next couple months.
Once he arrives at Northland, Rutkoske plans on majoring in biology with a focus in pre-physical therapy. He wants to attend graduate school in four years to pursue a career in physical therapy.
On the ice with the Lumberjacks, Rutkoske said “fitting in should be no problem next year.”
“The coaches and players made me feel very welcome and accepted,” he said. “The team is young, so there is room to grow with the program and develop into a top team.”
In making a decision like this, Rutkoske said he has a long list of people to thank in helping him reach this point in his career.
“First off, my teammates have been a huge part of my success and these past two years have been a major turning point in my hockey career,” explained Rutkoske. “I have never had so much confidence and so much room to grow with one organization. Q, Randy Wilson and Jamie Lovell have given me the tools I need to play at the next level. I have learned more playing for Q in two years than I've learned in my whole career. Playing for Metro has been the best choice I've ever made.
“Q, Randy and Jamie have been so supportive of not just me, but everyone. They would do anything for the boys. Also, none of this could have been possible without my family (parents, Lynn and Bob, and sister – and occasional national anthem singer at Jets games – Stephanie), so I thank them for everything and all the time they put in to this.”
Before he gears up to get back into the groove of college life, Rutkoske has one thing on his mind this season.
“The Silver Cup will make this season successful,” he said. “We have the talent and depth to make a deep run this year. Not looking too far ahead, though, as we need to finish out the season strong and be ready come playoff time.”
Tag(s): In the News