Ruggiero’s memoirs are a rollicking read

Originally published on in 2006

By Lucas Aykroyd

Women’s hockey is full of great personalities, many of whom aren’t afraid to speak their minds more candidly than their male counterparts.

However, for the general public, it’s often tough to catch more than a glimpse of those personalities beyond the quadrennial Olympics and the semi-annual IIHF Women’s World Championships. Few biographies of female hockey stars are available. Even, say, Elizabeth Etue’s 2005 title Hayley Wickenheiser: Born to Play runs just 40 pages, which isn’t very long, given that the Saskatchewan native is widely considered the world’s top forward.

So the recent release of Angela Ruggiero’s Breaking the Ice: My Journey to Olympic Hockey, The Ivy League, and Beyond is cause for celebration among women’s hockey fans. Before reading this 218-page book, some might only have known the 5-9, 190-pound American blueliner as a puck-rushing, physical talent who took a lot of penalties in the 1998 Nagano Olympics en route to gold, but matured enough to capture the Best Defenseman award in Salt Lake City in 2002, despite her disappointment after losing the deciding game to Team Canada.

In Breaking the Ice, you’ll discover that the 27-year-old veteran of six IIHF World Championships and two Olympic tournaments is more than a double X chromosome version of a perennial Norris Trophy candidate. She vividly relives her wobbly start on skates at age seven, and recalls how out of place she felt seven years later when she started attending prep school in Connecticut as “a Southern California girl amongst Yankee Brahmins, a fan of makeup, hoop earrings, body suits, and ‘that’s rad!” expressions in the midst of New Englanders who favored tattered corduroy pants, baggy college-emblazoned sweatshirts, and eyeliner-free faces.” Ruggiero also discusses carrying a hockey card of the 1980 USA “Miracle on Ice” team in her wallet for inspiration and bawling out Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to get fired up with her Harvard teammates before NCAA games.

Illustrating the ongoing quest for respect that women’s hockey faces, she recounts how she had to wage a media campaign to play pick-up hockey versus men in Michigan, just a few months after coming back from Nagano with a gold medal. And she provides an in-depth look into her off-ice life, from her flirtation with the world of commercial real estate to her four-week trip to Uganda with the humanitarian organization Right to Play.

Whether Team USA captures the gold medal at the Torino Olympics or not, Angela Ruggiero’s Breaking the Ice is a winner. Digg it Furl iFeedReaders Netscape RawSugar reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo MyWeb YardBarker

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