As befits a guy who spends hockey’s offseason perpetually on the go -- he biked across America one summer -- Ross Ring-Jarvi’s strengths as a winger are his speed and relentless energy.
Those qualities served him and the Alaska Aces well last season, when he was a member of the Kelly Cup-winning crew.
The ECHL champions on Thursday announced Ring-Jarvi will return for a second season, and they also reported the signing of rookie Daniel Sova, a big defenseman from Michigan Tech.
That makes 10 players -- four returners, six newcomers -- the Aces have announced for the upcoming season.
Ring-Jarvi, 27, last season worked primarily as a third-line winger and penalty killer, and earned 9-15—24 totals and a plus-12 rating in 51 regular-season games. He added one goal in seven playoff games.
All that came after he arrived at Aces training camp on a tryout basis following one season of pro hockey in Norway and four seasons of Division III hockey at Gustavus Adolphus. It didn’t take long for coach Rob Murray to peg Ring-Jarvi as a keeper.
“He came in, and right away you noticed him,’’ Murray said. “You thought, ‘This is a guy who can play at this level, for sure.’ "
What Murray also appreciated is that when Ring-Jarvi was often left out of the lineup in the playoffs because the Aces were stacked up front with additions from the American Hockey League, the winger continued to work diligently in practice.
Ring-Jarvi, reached by cellphone in Minnesota, said he loved his experience with the Aces and was eager to return.
“It’s pretty hard not to come back to a championship team, as well as the mountains, the fans, the Cowbell Crew -- everything really,’’ Ring-Jarvi said. “The way the team treats you, the way the fans treat you, it’s all great.’’
Ring-Jarvi said he wants to contribute however he can, whether that’s scoring more goals, killing more penalties or getting some power-play time.
While he did not take on an epic journey like biking across the country this offseason, Ring-Jarvi didn’t lay about. He said two of his teammates from his season in Norway, a Norwegian and a Swede, came to the U.S. for the first time, so he took them on a two-week road trip that included stops at Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.
Ring-Jarvi said he also coached at hockey camps and spent time at his family’s cabin in Minnesota, where he water-skied, biked, ran and canoed.
He said he’s returning to Alaska prior to the start of training camp, which typically opens at the start of October, to go on a camping trip. Again, Ring-Jarvi is getting the most from his offseason.
“That’s one of the best perks of this job,’’ he said.
Injuries limited Sova to just 31 games with Michigan Tech in his last two seasons, but Murray said Sova told him he’s healthy for training camp. The Aces hope the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder will furnish a physical presence and perhaps deliver complementary scoring, which he did as a freshman and sophomore, earning 3-19—22 totals in 77 games.