HHOF Profile: Angela Ruggiero

After-16-years-Angela-Ruggiero-played-more-games-than-any-other-Team-USA-player-256-and-finished-with-67-goals-and-141-assists-for-208-career-points.-photo-John-David-Mercer-US-PresswireIt is a new era in women’s hockey with the establishment of the NWHL but that league never would have happened if not or trailblazers like Angela Ruggiero.

The National Women’s Hockey League is not a big league with only four teams and their goals are not to be massive.

Instead the league is set-up to provide women with a place to play professional hockey and starting slow with hopes of building is the right way to go.

After all it was only a few years ago when women’s hockey gained the recognition they deserved in being nominated to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

In 2010 Angela James and Cammi Granato became the first women elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

So far they have been followed by Geraldine Heaney in 2013 and now Angela Ruggiero who joins the class of 2015.

This set of women more than deserve a spot in the hall of fame as they are the base to which a league like the NWHL are made upon.

They did it long before there were professional leagues as they made their mark on the international stage.

That is why when a player makes the Hall of Fame it is best to look to Hockey Canada and USA Hockey for those women who created interest in women’s hockey.

Ruggiero fits the description as one of the greatest American women’s hockey players to ever put on the red, white, and blue.

It started fairly early for the native of California who grew up in Michigan as she joined the American hockey team for the 1998 Olympics.

As a senior in high school Ruggiero helped the Americans to a gold medal in Nagano getting her first taste of success on the international stage.Angela-Ruggiero-portrait-credit-USA-Hockey

From there she attended Harvard and played as a member of the Crimson where she was named an All-American in every year and awarded the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2004 as the best female hockey player in the NCAA.

She went on from college to play in the Central Hockey League which made her the first woman to play a professional hockey game in the USA.

He biggest impact came, as most female players find, in the international game where she represented her country at four Olympic Games, nine World Championships, and seven Three/Four Nations Cups.

While a member of the team USA won six gold medals in all of these tournaments and finished second in almost every other one, Team USA finished third in the 2006 Olympic Games.

She was also a member of the original NWHL, a league that collapsed, and the Western Women’s Hockey League.

Those two leagues were precursors to the current NWHL which hopes to be more successful in growing than past leagues.

Ruggiero was one of the many women’s players who looked to international tournaments and her national team to play the sport they loved.

The future of the sport for women could look far different from Ruggiero’s time but it took the women like her to change the way they were viewed.

Much like the women that she will join in the Hockey Hall of Fame, Ruggiero began her career when women’s hockey wasn’t even an afterthought.

That was especially true in the USA where men’s hockey wasn’t much to speak, but Ruggiero followed what she loved and despite the odds became one of the best to play the game.

She ranks among the best defenceman to ever play for the US Women’s Team and helped to encourage more girls to play the game.

Women like Ruggiero and the others in the hall paved the way for the game today and if the women’s game continues to grow will be the foundations for an important part of the sport.

a-ruggiero.fw

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