Angela Ruggiero, the youngest member of U.S. team that won the inaugural Olympic women’s ice hockey championship in 1998 and whose 256 games is the most in a USA uniform, highlights the 2015 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame class announced Monday.
Stanley Cup champions Chris Drury and Mathieu Schneider, also a member of the inaugural World Cup of Hockey champion team, and 12-year USA Hockey President Ron DeGregorio joined Ruggiero, all of whom formally will be inducted Dec. 17 in Boston.
The honor was the second time Ruggiero has been selected for the U.S. Hall, having entered six years ago when the 1998 women’s team was inducted. The team is one of only three in the museum, located in Eveleth, Minnesota, along with the 1960 and 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s gold-medal-winning teams.
It also is the second enshrinement bestowed on Ruggiero in a little over a month. On June 29, she was announced as a member of the international Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto along with six others, including fellow American Phil Housley, Russia’s Sergei Fedorov, Sweden’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Canadian Chris Pronger. That induction will occur on Nov. 9.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Ruggiero said on a conference call with reporters from Malaysia, where she has been for the 128th Session of the International Olympic Committee as a member of the IOC. “You start playing ice hockey as a kid because you love it. All of this stuff is icing. I didn’t start playing hockey to be in the Hall of Fame.
“Now I’m in the Hockey Hall of Fame, the U.S. Hockey Hall...”
Ruggiero, 35, was a star defenseman who won two Olympic silver medals and a bronze, four world championship titles and six silver medals from the world championships. She also has the distinction of being the first woman other than a goaltender to play in a professional North American men’s team when she debuted for the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League in January 2005. Since her brother Bill also played for the Oilers, they were the first brother-sister combination to play professionally at the same time.
Both Schneider, 46, and Drury, 38, made multiple appearances with Team USA, including being teammates on the 2006 Olympic team.
Besides winning the 1996 World Cup title, Schneider also played in the 1998 Winter Games and the 1988 World Junior Championships. He played defenseman for 10 different NHL teams in his 21-year career, was selected twice to the NHL All-Star Game and won the Stanley Cup in 1993 with the Montreal Canadiens before retiring in 2010.
Drury appeared for Team USA in eight different championships, including three Winter Games, where he earned silver medals in 2002 and 2010, three world championships (including a silver medal in 2004), the 2004 World Cup and the 1996 World Junior Championships.
He won the Stanley Cup in 2001 with Colorado, one of four different teams in a 12-year career that ended in 2011.
“I’ve never really sat back and looked at (my career this) way,” Drury said. “It’s always been the next game, the next practice, the next season. This requires looking back, which I’m not great at, but I guess I’ll have to give it a try.”
DeGregorio’s career in hockey spans nearly half of a century, volunteering with local youth leagues before getting his first position with USA Hockey as a registrar in New England in 1973. He was elected to the organization’s board of directors two years later.
He became treasurer in the 1980s, helping the organization through its toughest time financially, when DeGregorio said it was essentially broke due to escalating liability insurance costs. He retired as president in June but serves as the co-chair of the board of directors.
“I’ve been to nine Olympics, was the team leader in Lillehammer (for the 1994 Winter Games),” he said. “I have a lot of stories, some of them funny that I can’t repeat on phone, maybe later on. But I have great memories from closer to 50 years.”
Brian Trusdell has covered four FIFA World Cups and six Olympic Games during his more than 30 years as a sportswriter, mostly with the Associated Press and Bloomberg News. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.