Asked when she began playing hockey, Abby Rutt paused.

“Um 3?”

When you grow up in the Rutt family, you lace up the skates early. It’s hard to remember just when, like asking someone when they began walking.

There’s certainly a trend in the family tree.

Jon Rutt, 23, is one of the captains of this year’s University of Southern Maine hockey team.

Jacob Rutt, 19, just signed to play for the University of Maine next season. He’s in his second year with the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs.

The oldest of the four Rutt children, Caitlin, 25, played for Cony High, then St. Dominic when high school girls’ hockey was a club sport.

Growing up in Augusta, Abby and her older siblings were often on the ice.

“We had an outside rink a tenth of a mile from our house,” said Norm Rutt, the father of this crew. “They would go after school. On Saturdays and Sunday, they’d grab their skates and sticks and head out for three, four hours.”

Norm Rutt also played hockey for USM, from 1977-79.

And that brings us to the youngest Rutt.

Abby Rutt, 16, is a Scarborough High junior and one of the top returning players in the state. She will be on the ice tonight when the season begins.

Rutt can take the puck from one end to the other, uncontested. And she can dominate as a defenseman, greatly reducing the shots on goal.

“She sees the ice so well,” Red Storm Coach Caitlin Cashman said. “She’s definitely a playmaker. Being a defenseman, she battles hard in the corners and on the blue line. She’s a tough, smart, disciplined player.

“And a great kid to have on the team.”

Cashman is as thrilled for Rutt’s presence as her ability. Scarborough is like other programs, full of young players, some just learning. They need coaching and mentoring.

“She’s just a great role model on and off the ice,” Cashman said. “The girls really look up to her. She works her hardest every practice, and really helps the new girls.”

Some of the new girls, like Rutt, come from competitive travel teams. One of them is goalie Devan Kane, a freshman. She joins returning goalie Shannon Hicks.

Good goalies, skillful players and Rutt’s leadership are why the Red Storm may be the team to beat in Western Maine.

And Scarborough is motivated. In last year’s West semifinal, the Red Storm led Falmouth 2-0 after two periods only to lose, 3-2.

“We took them for granted. We can’t do that this year,” Rutt said.

Rutt has rarely been able to take things for granted on the ice, not when your family pond hockey games featured such talented siblings.

“We’d go out for hours,” Abby Rutt said.

The children began playing hockey in the Augusta area, where they lived, and then at St. Dom’s. The family moved to Scarborough when Abby was in the eighth grade.

Abby played on the boys’ youth travel hockey team in Biddeford, which won the Bantam state title in 2009. She played on the Lady Breakers team that reached the nationals last spring. Meanwhile, Rutt has been dominating for the Red Storm.

Rutt considers hockey her favorite sport, although softball is a close second. She also recently began playing field hockey.

On the ice, Rutt will be everywhere, sparking the offense and cementing the defense.

Scarborough will begin its season tonight against Biddeford at the University of Southern Maine rink at 8:30.

 

OTHER TEAMS also begin play, including the new Leavitt-Edward Little combined team against Greely at 6 p.m. in Falmouth.

And while Scarborough may be a favorite in the West, the state’s top team should come from the East. St. Dom’s not only returns All-State defenseman Sophie Goulet, but also welcomes some stellar transfers, including All-State forward Marisa Zamrock from Lewiston.

The Saints open their season at 7:30 tonight at Falmouth.

 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]