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ERNIE RUCKS, 1930 - 2014

Penticton Vees team program photo

Former Orange County resident, Ernie Rucks, 84, passed October 2, 2014 in his cabin on his son and daughter-in-laws' property in Redmond, Oregon.

Ernie was born March 2nd, 1930 in Wayne, Alberta, Canada to Mr. and Mrs. Gus Rucks.

Ernie grew up playing hockey in Western Canada and helped Team Canada win the world Championship in 1955. After moving to Orange County in 1962 were he lived until 2009, he held several positions, working in the recreation and construction fields. From 1974 to 1994, he owned and operated a small successful reinforcing steel business in Signal Hill. He retired in 1994 and lived the rest of his life very happy and content, pursuing the many joys life offered him. He loved being around people and also was an animal lover, especially dogs.

Ernie is survived by his son, Arron; daughter-in-law, Terry and son, Les.

He lived a full life and passed away happy and getting ready to go out to dinner with family.
obituary from Orange County Register, California Oct. 15, 2014

His hockey history from

  • 1950-51 Nanaimo Clippers OMHL Statistics Unavailable
  • 1951-52 Penticton Vees OSAHL Statistics Unavailable
  • 1952-53 Penticton Vees OSAHL Statistics Unavailable
  • 1953-54 Penticton Vees OSAHL Statistics Unavailable
  • 1954-55 Penticton Vees OSAHL Statistics Unavailable
  • 1955-56 Penticton Vees OSAHL Statistics Unavailable
  • 1962-63 Long Beach Gulls CalHL Statistics Unavailable
  • 1966-67 Los Angeles Bruins SCHL 12 games played, 5 goals, 19 assists, 6 penalty minutes.
  • More hockey history I found on the net, years ago. from Drumheller, Alberta, where he played minor hockey,

  • 1. Junior A for Medicine Hat Tigers, Western Canada Junior Hockey League,
  • 2. 1950-51 Nanaimo Clippers
  • 3. Penticton Vees, 4 years, 52-53 Allen Cup finalists for Canadian Amateur Championship, 53-54 Allan Cup Winners, 54-55 World Championship winners over Russians in Dusseldorf, Dortmund, Cologne and Krefeld, Germany. 1955 Penticton Vees - World Champions cited on the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame website,
  • 4. 4 years Recreation Director, Head Coach, Minor and Senior Hockey, Prince George, B.C. coached Concordia College, Moorehead, MN. Attended U. Cal-Long Beach, played for Long Beach Gulls, 62-63. Concordia website sports history has this; "Student coach Don Brose led the 1961-1962 hockey team to a sixth place finish in the MIAC.
  • Available scores were:

  • Concordia 1 St. John’s 5
  • Concordia 4 Gustavus 1
  • Concordia 0 Macalester 12
  • Concordia 1 St. Mary’s 8
  • Concordia 2 Augsburg 6
  • Concordia 4 St. Thomas 7
  • Those on the roster were Dick Chenoweth, Rollie Mann, Jim L’Heureux, Jack Riedel, Roger Hesby, Tom Halverson, Rick Torgerson, Murray Bergman, Merv Thompson, Dave Anderson, Charlie Sundeen, Pete Ketola, Mel Soderberg, Ernie Rucks and Bill Bossman."

    Ernie was the first hockey person I spoke with in the Norwalk rink in about February 1965. We had moved from Sudbury Mass in November 1962. I was looking for hockey programs for my sons, ages 3 and 4. Ernie was taking off his skates after running a practice for boys a year or two older than my sons. He encouraged me and invited us to the end of season Norwalk hockey club banquet coming up. I recall my boys in suits at the banquet in Whittier. Someone, maybe Ernie introduced them to the gathering.

    I made up some pads from football equipment from the Goodwill and bought them skates and sticks. We started showing up for the saturday morning spring practice, divided into age brackets. I was soon in charge of spring practice. I recall making out lesson sheets, explaining the markings on the ice for face offs, off side, etc.

    Ernie's older son Arron was an age bracket ahead of my older son. We both stayed with the Norwalk Club for 1966-1969 till we joined the LA hockey Club. Where our teams played up one bracket for better competition. So my oldest boy, Joe by then a Squirt played against Peewees. Ernie's Peewee team played against Bantams during the regular season, then Peewees in the post season.

    Active all year round: 1968 Southern California Hockey Clinic, Norwalk Ice Rink, Norwalk, Calif. June 17-July 23, 1968, 3 hours ice time, 2 evenings a week, Head Coach, Ernie Rucks, Associate Coach, Ken Watson, Guest Coach & Advisor, Duke Edmondson. Advisor, Fred Hildebrand.

    There was a memorable formation meeting of the LA Hockey Club at Dart Industries where I worked for Bill Vansiclen who was president of the club. He had asked me to see what I could do to straighten up the financial mess the club inherited from being the follow on to Operation East. Op East for 4 yrs had chosen teams to go back to the northeastern US over Christmas break and play a very competitive schedule against New England prep schools. I had collected $10k owed and paid it all out to settle the debts of the organization. Bill announced that rather of matter of factly, so Ernie bellowed out, "Is that all you can say to thank, Joe here for bailing out the club?". A proper group thanks was then spoken for me.

    1969-70 season, Ernie took his Peewee team to the U.S. NATIONALS defeating Utah, tying Alaska but losing to Massachusetts and Michigan.

    1970-1971 Ernie and Don Begin's Peewee team were the California champions, and went to the WESTERN AHA US Peewee Championship, competing against the Pacific Northwest Champion-Seattle Sno-Kings, Alaska Champion-Anchorage

    When my sons lost interest, I let them quit. Now I had time to play so I got into various pickup games and low level leagues.

    Ernie had introduced me to senior hockey groups in dressing rooms, Norwalk, Bay Harbor and elsewhere with "Joe has done a lot for minor hockey".

    We played many games together. Ernie always being my strong cheerleader. I had joined a team in a league of much younger guys. Ernie asked me, "why do you play in that hatchet league?" Well, I had been drafted by one of the teams, the Outlaws and due to my size and speed had no problem with the the checking allowed league guys. I never fought, I just used on ice intimidation mainly by skating.

    Ernie bought felt shoulder pads from me. We discussed job searches a few times, both looking for scheduler, cost estimating, planner positions for construction companies. Our familes and the Norwalk club got together at the rink for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Another memorable incident occurred at the Costa Mesa rink on Paularino. I was playing defense on Ernie's team and was the only man back when Duke Edmondson who had played for the Leafs and Seals got a pass at the right side boards. I had watched him enough to know that once he got going I'd be be seriously challenged, but I also had noticed that he would look down at the puck before he got going. So I poke checked it loose and passed it across the ice to his son who was left wide open and who scored. Ernie roared, an "Oh my".

    Shortly there after I carried the puck into the other zone and faced Duke on defense. I anticipated a body check so I draped over his low check and passed the puck off to center ice.

    Ernie was well known for loud remarks during sessions and games. At Norwalk one Thursday evening he bellowed, "how bad can you get?", referring to himself after he flubbed a play. Another memorable incident was in the 80's when I showed up for a friendly scrimmage at Bay Harbor, Ernie had told me about He introduced me around the dressing room as I took note of some heavily experienced players, about half of whom I had been on the ice with before. Ernie paired with me on defense and would yell to Vic Venasky ( Hockey Database bio) who had played for the Kings till 1979, "me and Joe are going to hold you to three goals per shift". I think he scored 6 on the first shift, Ernie and I had played defense together enough times so by habit put some territorial squeeze on Vic whose stickwork and anticipation was extroardinary. We did succeed in holding him to three goals per shift but he had to start shooting from less desireable angles.

    Ernie was what one may call, "unabashed honesty". When I went to a Kings game (never paid to get in, Art Guiney or someone gave me their tickets), I would have a beer with the minor officials, including Ernie, Ken Watson, Ronnie Van Gompel between periods. Ernie told me later he gave it up, wasn't worth the time and gas money.

    Ernie was one of my inspirations to start my hockey pages, because in the dressing rooms he often had reminisced with tales I felt needed to be preserved.

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