Family friendships help steer St. Cloud defenseman Max Rud to Gophers

The St. Cloud blueliner's father and Minnesota Gophers head coach Bob Motzko worked together for many years prior to Max deciding that playing for Motzko in 2 years is his college hockey route of choice.

SC Max Rud SR 3.jpg
St. Cloud co-op team defenseman Max Rud (28) handles the puck in pregame warmups before a Central Lakes Conference boys hockey game on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, at Municipal Athletic Complex. Rud had seven goals, 39 assists, 16 penalty minutes and was a plus-31 in 42 games played in the last two seasons for St. Cloud. (Mick Hatten/The Rink Live)

There were likely no lengthy introductions needed when the Minnesota Gophers’ men's head coach Bob Motzko reached out to St. Cloud defenseman Max Rud and offered him a place to play college hockey. Although Motzko is heading into his fourth season running the Minnesota program, his background and relationships in the Granite City are well-established.

“We know (Motzko) really well and I’m actually pretty close with his sons, so it’s really cool,” said Rud, who announced his commitment to the Gophers on Tuesday, July 13, via social media.

Motzko and Rud’s father, Eric, were coworkers for a decade, first when the elder Rud (2005-10) was an assistant coach on Motzko’s St. Cloud State men’s staff, and then when Rud was the women’s head coach for the Huskies (2014-19).

SC Max Rud SR 1.jpg
St. Cloud co-op sophomore defenseman Max Rud (28) handles the puck against Sauk Rapids-Rice in a Central Lakes Conference boys hockey game on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, at Municipal Athletic Complex. Rud, the son of Miami assistant men's hockey coach Eric Rud, had five goals (three game-winners), 21 assists, 10 penalty minutes and was a plus-17 in 15 games played for St. Cloud in 2020-21. (Mick Hatten/The Rink Live)


The Gophers head into the coming season with perhaps the deepest combination of defense and goaltending in college hockey, but Max Rud is looking a few years down the road to make his debut in Dinkytown. He played for St. Cloud’s co-op high school program as a junior and tied for the team scoring lead with five goals and 26 assists, then finished the season in juniors with the United States Hockey League's Sioux Falls Stampede.

“Great vision, great hands. He plays defense really well. I was ecstatic to see him get the opportunity he just got,” said St. Cloud coach Pete Matanich. “He sees the ice really well. He can make guys miss and then he’ll hit a long stretch pass and create a lot of offensive opportunities and odd-man rushes up ice. On the power play, he always does a nice job of drawing guys into him and then moving the puck around the zone really well.”

Rud said he will spend his senior season in Sioux Falls with designs on joining Motzko’s program two years from now.

“There are a lot of great schools I was talking to, and it was a special opportunity I had to go through the recruiting process,” said Rud, who is 6-2 and listed as 174 pounds. “At the end of the day, I fell in love with the campus at the U and loved the coaching staff. Everything just kind of felt right.”

On the ice, Rud is known for his size and for effective play in both ends of the rink.

“I’m a two-way defenseman. I’ve got a little offense, a little defense,” Rud said. “I can break the puck out very well, I see the ice pretty well, and I know how to make a play when I need to.”


Playing top-level defense is apparently hereditary for the Ruds. After a standout career at Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights, where he is part of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame, Eric Rud was twice named the WCHA’s Defensive Player of the Year (1996 and 1997) while skating for Colorado College in a pair of Frozen Fours. Eric is currently the men’s associate head coach at Miami University.

“He’s helped me out so much, being able to see all the different places he’s coached, it’s been awesome,” Max Rud said. “He knows how to correct things too, when I’m playing he’ll tell me if he sees me doing something wrong.”

Rud had three assists in nine games with the Stampede last season.


Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
What to read next
Cory Portner is the director of the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center at St. Cloud State University. This week, he's lending his talents to Scheels Arena and the NCAA tournament.
Canisius, Minnesota, Minnesota State and St. Cloud State are set to take the ice Thursday for the opening round of the NCAA tournament
Sandra Sampson's team-leading 16th goal of the season broke a scoreless deadlock early in the third period and stood up as the game-winner in a tournament semifinal on Friday
The Spruins scored two first-period goals before sealing the game late with an empty-netter on Thursday.
Get Local