It’s been a pretty decent summer for Angela Ruggiero.
In June, the four-time Olympic medalist became just the fourth woman to be inducted as a player into the Hockey Hall of Fame. On Monday morning, she added another laurel with a berth in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Ruggiero headlines the four-member class of 2015 that also includes NHL stars Chris Drury and Mathieu Schneider, and and former USA Hockey president Ron DeGregorio.
Ruggiero, a rangy defender who mixed skill and snarl, played more games (256) for Team USA than any player, man or woman, in the organization’s history. She helped the U.S. win gold in the first Olympic women’s tournament, at Nagano in 1998, and added silver medals in 2002 and ’10, and a bronze medal in ’06. She also was part of three World Championship teams and was named the top defenseman at the tournament four times.
Ruggiero became the first female position player to skate in a men’s pro hockey game when she suited up for the Central League’s Tulsa Oilers on Jan. 31, 2005. She assisted on a goal and was a +2 as the Oilers knocked off Rio Grande Valley 7–2.
Drury represented the U.S. in three Olympic tournaments and in three World Championships, but was best known for his success in both the Little League World Series (he pitched Trumbull, Conn. to the championship in 1989) and in the NHL. A gritty forward who always seemed to punch above his weight, Drury played 895 games for the Avalanche, Flames, Sabres and Rangers, winning the Calder Trophy in 1999 and the Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001. He scored 11 goals in 23 games that postseason, none bigger than the one that snapped a 1–1 tie between the Avs and the Kings in Game 7 of their second-round series.
“Throughout his career, Chris Drury was always a great competitor, a tremendous leader and teammate, and the heart and soul type of player that every team would love to have,” New York general manager Glen Sather said when Drury retired in 2011. “His commitment, determination and will to win were apparent each and every day. Those characteristics will have a lasting impact on all those who were fortunate enough to learn from Chris over his 12 years in the National Hockey League.”
Schneider skated for 10 teams during his 21-year NHL career and played in 1,289 regular-season games, fifth-most all-time for American-born players, behind only Chris Chelios, Mike Modano, Phil Housley and Jeremy Roenick.
A dashing offensive-minded defenseman, Schneider represented Team USA in the 1998 and 2006 Olympics, and was part of the “Greatest Generation” American team that upset Canada at the ’96 World Cup. He also appeared in two NHL All-Star Games.
DeGregorio just stepped down in June after 12 years and four terms as president of USA Hockey. His legacy includes being one of the architects behind the creation of the U.S. National Team Development Program, a hothouse approach to nurturing young talent that elevated the U.S. from a middling entity to a true world power in the sport.
“We wanted to have a program of excellence that set standards and something that people would have to compete against in terms of the most high-performance players to attract them,” DeGregorio said upon his retirement. “I believe right now it's not a miracle when we win. Frankly it's a great disappointment when we don't win gold, let alone participate and contend very well. Our goal is to [win the gold medal] each and every tournament now.”
Since the start of the program in 1996, Team USA has won three gold medals at World Juniors, along with one silver and two bronze. During the 2014–15 season, 62 graduates of the program skated in the NHL. Another, Jack Eichel, was the second pick in the 2015 NHL draft.
The US. Hockey Hall’s Class of 2015 will be inducted at a ceremony held on Dec. 17 at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.