Gunn, Potter, Ruggiero Named Kazmaier Finalists

Northeastern goaltender Chanda Gunn, Minnesota-Duluth forward Jenny Potter, and Harvard defenseman Angela Ruggiero are the finalists for the 2004 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, announced Monday by the USA Hockey Foundation.

All three were among the Top 10 candidates last year. Potter and Ruggiero were Top Three finalists.

The Kazmaier Award annually recognizes the most outstanding player in women’s intercollegiate varsity ice hockey. Criteria for the award include outstanding individual and team skills, sportsmanship, performance in the clutch, personal character, competitiveness and a love of hockey. Consideration will also be given to academic achievement and civic involvement.

Earlier this season, each women’s NCAA Division I coach was permitted to nominate up to two players from his or her team. The coaches then voted for the top 10 finalists from among those nominees.

The finalists, as well as the recipient, are chosen by a 13-member selection committee comprised of women’s coaches, representatives of the print and broadcast media, and a representative of USA Hockey.

The announcement was made by USA Hockey Foundation President Ron DeGregorio (Salem, N.H.) and the executive committee of The Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award which, in addition to DeGregorio, includes: Jim Erickson (Bloomington, Minn.), Bob Fallen (Minneapolis, Minn.), Cammi Granato (Downers Grove, Ill.), Laura Halldorson (Minneapolis, Minn.), Julie Sasner (Durham, N.H.) and Ben Smith (Gloucester, Mass.).

Now in its seventh year, the award was first presented to New Hampshire forward Brandy Fisher in 1998. Harvard forward and two-time U.S. Olympian A.J. Mleczko received the accolade in 1999, Brown goaltender Ali Brewer was the 2000 recipient, and Brooke Whitney, a forward from Northeastern, was the 2002 winner. In 2001 and 2003, two-time Canadian Olympian Jennifer Botterill of Harvard was honored with the award, the only two-time recipient.

The award is named in honor of the late Patty Kazmaier, who was a four-year varsity letterwinner and All-Ivy League defenseman for Princeton from 1981-82 through 1985-86. An accomplished athlete who helped lead the Tigers to the Ivy League championship in three consecutive seasons, Patty Kazmaier-Sandt died on Feb. 15, 1990, at the age of 28 following a long struggle with a rare blood disease.

This year’s award dinner will be held the evening of Saturday, March 27, during the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four in Providence, R.I., at the Westin Providence Hotel.

Profiles of the three finalists are as follows:

Chanda Gunn
Position: Goaltender
Year: Senior
School: Northeastern University
Hometown: Huntington Beach, Calif.

As a record-setting senior goaltender, Gunn has represented a beacon of light for Northeastern. Backstopping the Huskies to eight wins, Gunn has broken two school records, registering 56 saves in a game and twice recording 23 saves in one period. She is ranked first nationally in save percentage, with a .940 mark, and tenth in the nation with a 1.94 goals-against average.

Recognized twice as Hockey East Player of the Month, Gunn ranks first in the conference in save percentage (.937) and third in goals-against average with a 2.01 GAA. She also ranks third among Hockey East netminders in overall saves (503) and second in minutes played, logging over 1,015. A Top 10 Finalist for the 2002 and 2003 awards, Gunn has also been one of five finalists for the Humanitarian Award, presented annually to college hockey’s finest citizen, for the last two years.

Gunn is the president of Northeastern’s Student-Athlete Advisory Board, and the founder of Inner-City Youth Hockey Program, in Boston, Mass. She also coaches the Massachusetts Spitfire Girls’ Team.

Gunn is majoring in athletic training. She is the daughter of Rod and Penny Gunn.

Jenny Potter
Position: Forward
Year: Senior
School: University of Minnesota-Duluth
Hometown: Eagan, Minn.

Once again Potter proved herself to be one of the nation’s most prolific forwards, ranking second in the nation in overall scoring, while notching 75 points on 36 goals and 39 assists. She also ranked second nationally in points per game, registering an average of 2.21 points in 34 contests. The senior forward from Minnesota-Duluth is tied for first in the country in game-winning goals (10), and tied for second in shorthanded goals (4). Potter also ranked second nationally in goals per game, registering a 1.06 average.

Potter topped the WCHA in five categories, including overall scoring, with 57 points (28 goals and 29 assists) in 24 conference games. She also led the conference in goals scored (28), short-handed goals (4) and game-winning goals (7). She ranked second in the WCHA in assists (29) and fourth in power-play goals (6).

In the WCHA playoffs, Potter notched two points (1-1) and the game-winning goal in the Bulldogs’ 3-1 victory over Wisconsin. She also notched one assist in Duluth’s 4-2 loss to Minnesota in the championship game.

Potter was a Top 10 Finalist for the 2000 and 2003 awards, as well as being a Top Three Finalist last year. Potter skated with Team USA at the 1998 and 2002 Olympic Winter Games, winning a gold and silver medal, respectively.

Potter carries a 3.33 grade-point average with a major in organizational behavior management. She participates in Duluth Amateur Hockey clinics and Skate With the Bulldogs. She is the daughter of Dwayne and Terri Schmidgall. She and her husband, Rob, have a three-year-old daughter, Madison.

Angela Ruggiero
Position: Defenseman
Year: Senior
School: Harvard University
Hometown: Harper Woods, Mich.

The nation’s top-scoring defenseman, Ruggiero has further solidified her place as the most dominant player at her position. She ranks ninth in the nation and third on the Harvard squad in overall scoring with 51 points (23-28) in 28 games. Her 23 goals rank eighth in the nation, and she is sixth in assists per game. The Crimson team captain averaged 1.82 points per game, first in scoring by a defenseman, and she registered five game-winning goals to tie for ninth in the country.

Ruggiero was named the Ivy League Player of the Year for her efforts, and was a first team All-Ivy selection for the fourth time in her collegiate career. She helped lead Harvard to a share of the ECAC regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs.

Ruggiero was a Top Three Finalist for the 2003 award, and has been a Top 10 Finalist all four years of her collegiate career. She earned a gold and silver medal while skating for Team USA at the Olympic Winter games in 1998 and 2002, respectively. Ruggiero was also selected by her teammates as one of eight Americans who carried the United States flag from the World Trade Center during the opening ceremonies in Salt Lake City.

A senior government major, Ruggiero is the co-chair of the Harvard Radcliffe Foundation for Women’s Athletics. She is also a volunteer at King Elementary School, and an active member of the Women’s Leadership Project, Student Athlete Advisory Committee and Women’s Sports Foundation.

A Right to Play NGO Athlete Ambassador, Ruggiero will travel to Africa this summer to volunteer with the Right to Play pilot project, called Sports Activism Youth (SAY!), in the field. Ruggiero is the daughter of Bill and Karen Ruggiero.