Two-time U.S. Olympian and current Women’s National Team member Angela Ruggiero will become the first female skater ever to play in a Central Hockey League game on Friday, Jan. 28, when she suits up for the Tulsa Oilers in their game against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.
Ruggiero will play in front of her older brother, Oilers goalie Bill Ruggiero. The pair will become the first brother-sister tandem to play in a game together in North American professional hockey history. The Oilers host the Killer Bees at 7:35 p.m. CST at the 7,111-seat Maxwell Convention Center in Tulsa, Okla.
“Angela is one of very few female players who have the strength and the skill to play at many different levels of hockey, ” said U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Ben Smith. “I’m sure being on the ice with her brother will be a tremendous thrill for both of them, and I think the competition will reflect well on women’s hockey as a whole.”
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to skate with the Tulsa Oilers and my brother, Bill,” Angela Ruggiero said. “This will be an exciting time for my entire family and I am thankful for the chance that the Oilers organization is giving me.”
“It’s pretty neat, it’s not something that happens every day for sure and I don’t think it will happen again.” said Bill Ruggiero. “Growing up we played together but we haven’t really played on the same ice since bantam.”
Proceeds from Friday’s game will benefit the American Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund. In addition, tickets to the game will be free to girls 12-and-under.
Angela Ruggiero is a gold and silver medal winner, after competing for the U.S. Women’s hockey team at the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympic Games. She has also skated in five International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships and played four years of NCAA Division I hockey at Harvard. Last year, Ruggiero was the recipient of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented annually to the top player in women’s NCAA hockey. Currently, Ruggiero is skating for the East Coast Wizards, along with several of her national team teammates.
Ruggiero will become the first female position player and second woman ever to play in the league. Former U.S. Women’s National Team goalie Erin Whitten played in four games with the Dallas Freeze during the 1993-94 season.