For most people, the mere mention of Southern California evokes images of sun, sand and surf.
For San Diego native Chad Ruhwedel, his mind has always been on the ice.
"Playing hockey out there, it definitely wasn't the biggest sport," said Ruhwedel, a rookie defenseman with the American Hockey League's Rochester Americans. "Ninety percent of the kids didn't play hockey -- it was mostly baseball, basketball, football … the standard sports. My mom and dad threw the skates on me at a young age, and it just kind of stuck. I knew it was the sport I always wanted to put first."