Harvard defenseman Angela Ruggiero was named Saturday as the winner of the 2004 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner, given to the top collegiate women’s hockey player.
Harvard has produced the Kazmaier winner three of the last four years. Ruggiero follows in the footsteps of teammate Jennifer Botterill, who won the award in 2001 and 2003.
Ruggiero ranks first in the country in defenseman scoring, earning 61 points on 21 goals and 40 assists. For her career, she stands fourth on the all-time list with 252 points. She leads just about every statistical category for defensemen.
In addition, Ruggiero has twice played for the U.S. National Team, earning a gold medal in 1998 and a silver medal in 2002.
Earlier in the week, Ruggiero was named a First Team All-American for the fourth time in her collegiate career, a distinction she also shares with Botterill.
The Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is named for Princeton defender Patty Kazmaier, who was a four-year varsity letter-winner in the early 1980s. Kazmaier died from a rare blood disease in 1990.
“When it started out, nobody knew who [Patty Kazmaier] was,” explains Laura Halldorson, who was a teammate of Kazmaier’s at Princeton, and who is now on the Executive Committee that oversees the Kazmaier Award. “Over time, it has been great that the teams would come, and the people who would come would learn more about her life and what she was about. It’s nice to have a name and a person attached to the award.
“When it started, there was a question of whether we should name the award, or just call the award the Player of the Year,” she continued. “I think it has a lot more meaning with someone’s name and story attached to the award.”
One of the positives about the award, Halldorson said, is that it helps players remember the history and tradition of the sport.
“It’s great that the current student-athletes realize that there were pioneers before them that paved the way for them to have what they have today.”
“Players tend to concentrate on the present, a game, a championship, what’s in front of them,” agreed Digit Murphy, coach of Brown and member of the Host Committee. “It’s nice to remember where they came from.”
All three finalists for the award, including goaltender Chanda Gunn from Northeastern, forward Jenny Potter from Minnesota-Duluth, and Ruggiero, will be reporting to Halifax, Nova Scotia next week for the World Championships.
The three are close friends, as Gunn and Ruggiero played for the same team when growing up in California, and Ruggiero and Potter (then Schmidgall) were roommates in Nagano in 1998.
The award, administered by the USA Hockey Foundation, was established in 1998, and has been awarded seven times.
Each Division I coach is allowed to nominate up to two players from his or her team. Those nominees are sent collectively to the coaches, who voted for the top 10 finalists. The finalists, as well as the winner, are selected by a 13-member selection committee comprised of coaches, media members, and a member of USA Hockey.
Past Patty Kazmaier Award Winners
1998 Brandy Fisher, F, New Hampshire
1999 A.J. Mleczko, F, Harvard
2000 Ali Brewer, G, Brown
2001 Jennifer Botterill, F, Harvard
2002 Brooke Whitney, F, Northeastern
2003 Jennifer Botterill, F, Harvard
2004 Patty Kazmaier Selection Committee
Jackie Barto, Ohio State coach
Adam Brinker, Findlay coach
Melody Davidson, Cornell coach
Kelly Dyer, USA Hockey
John Gilbert, freelance reporter
Laura Halldorson, Minnesota coach
Mark Johnson, Wisconsin coach
Jeff Kampersal, Princeton coach
Barbara Matson, Boston Globe
Brian McCloskey, New Hampshire coach
Pam Schmid, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Sandy Smith, Concord Monitor
Katey Stone, Harvard coach