Sunday, 5 July 2015

Boston Blades charter member Angela Ruggiero earns nod to HHOF

In an offseason filled with many memorable moments, the announcement of Angela Ruggiero’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame only adds to such magic. Prior to said announcement, CWHL Board Member Fran Rider became the first female builder to earn a spot in the IIHF Hall of Fame. Although Ruggiero becomes the fourth woman to gain entry into the prestigious Hall, an exciting aspect is the fact that she becomes the first inductee with playing experience in the CWHL.
After the euphoria of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, the CWHL made its first foray into the United States, establishing a team in Boston, resulting in borderless hockey. As a charter member of the Boston Blades, Ruggiero was more than just one of the team’s leaders; she became an ambassador for the team and the league.
During the Blades inaugural season, Ruggiero made her CWHL debut on October 30, 2010 against the Burlington Barracudas. Earning an assist in her debut, it also represented a franchise milestone as it was an assist on the first power play goal in franchise history.
It would mark the start of a four-game scoring streak to begin her Blades career, in which the squad enjoyed a 3-1 record. During the final game of said streak, a 4-2 win versus Toronto on November 21, Ruggiero not only scored the first goal of her CWHL career, she completed the game by recording a hat trick, including the game-winning tally. Fittingly, she was recognized with First Star of the Game honors.
Finishing the season with 26 points in 22 games played, she recorded five multi-point performances, including an impressive four-point output on February 26, 2011, a hard-fought 5-4 loss to the eventual Clarkson Cup champion Montreal Stars. That season, she would finish second in team scoring to Sam Faber, while ranking third overall in scoring among CWHL blueliners.
As a side note, Ruggiero had once played for the Montreal Axion, a predecessor to the Montreal Stars. Calling the likes of players such as Lisa-Marie Breton Lebreux (a co-founder of the CWHL), Gina Kingsbury and All-World goalie Charline Labonte as teammates, she would help the Axion reach the 2005 Esso Women’s Nationals, the forebear to the current Clarkson Cup.
Helping the Axion to the bronze medal game, she would score two of the Axion’s three goals in the final ten minutes, to prevail by a 4-2 tally. For her efforts, Ruggiero was not only named Player of the Game, but she earned the tournament’s Top Defenseman Award, signifying one of the most exceptional performances by an American-born player in the history of the event.

The chance to play with the Boston Blades would result in Ruggiero continuing to gain the admiration and respect of Canadian hockey fans. Subsequently, making the concept of women’s pro hockey in the United States viable, it was part of a profound impact that represented a turning point for CWHL hockey.

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