A native Buffalonian has joined her hometown Beauts. Word was released on the afternoon of Aug. 7, 2019 that Buffalo State College graduate and Amherst, New York resident Emma Ruggiero had signed with the team. Having graduated only a few months beforehand, she is now primed to make her professional hockey debut.
“I wasn’t going to let an opportunity like this pass,” said Ruggiero, in the press release for her signing. “I’m really excited to share this journey with other players that share the same passion.”
Ruggiero is the fourth player announced thus far who participated in the Beauts recent Free Agent Camp and was offered a contract afterward. While the Beauts historically have had other Western New York natives suit up for the team, Ruggiero is the first for the 2019-20 edition of the team.
“O Captain, My Captain!”
These same Beauts are going to have plenty of reliable leaders on their roster. Ruggiero is the third player the team has added who captained her college team. She held the captaincy for the Buffalo State Bengals during her recent senior season of 2018-19.
With the “C” emblazoned upon her sweater, Ruggiero proceeded to set career highs in goals (14), assists (10), and points (24) in 25 games. During the same past season she was named Northeast Women’s Hockey League’s (NEWHL) Player of the Week for Nov. 26 through Dec. 2, 2018 when she scored four goals and an assist in only two games.
In 100 career games for the Bengals, Ruggiero finished her NCAA career with 28 goals, 24 assists and 52 points. What is most important to note of those numbers was how exponentially her totals increased during her aforementioned senior campaign. Ruggiero doubled her output, having previously scored seasons of 11, 5 and 12 points before ramping up her offense to be nearly a point-per-game player.
A sizable reason for the increase in her scoring was that Ruggiero does not hesitate to shoot. She recorded at least one shot in all 25 games in 2018-19. Twice she recorded nine shots in a game – first on Nov. 10, 2018 against Oswego, and then on Feb. 10, 2019 against William Smith.
Just when she thought it was over, Ruggiero now has a chance to keep riding her scoring wave on into the NWHL and also demonstrate her leadership skills for the team as well.
“I was worried that after graduating and being in the hockey world all my life, that was it,” she said. “But now I’m coaching and playing, and I really couldn’t be happier.”
Ruggiero will be helping to coach the Kenmore High School girls’ hockey team while also playing for the Beauts. Kenmore is another suburb of Buffalo.
Ruggiero Is Another Scrappy-Doo
Within two days, the Beauts had announced the signings of Ruggiero and Marie-Jo Pelletier – both players who are under 5-foot. While they may be diminutive in size, they are both as scrappy as can be – Ruggiero especially.
In her 100 NCAA games, she compiled 119 penalty minutes. Just as her scoring, Ruggiero’s largest penalty-minute total came during 2018-19. 53 minutes in penalties were assessed to her within 25 games. 17 of those PIMs came in a Dec. 7, 2018 showdown with Franklin Pearce, and Ruggiero still managed to earn an assist and take three shots in that game.
Her scrappiness and willingness to do battle are qualities that are very much innate within her hometown, and are typical of what has endeared athletes to Buffalo over the years. Ruggiero will have plenty of fans to cheer her on at the NorthTown Center once the regular season gets underway, and she is bound to earn at least a few league-wide.
“Emma is a feisty player who will lead by example, as she has done at the college level,” said Beauts GM Mandy Cronin about the newest addition to her team.
As of Aug. 7, here is how the Beauts’ roster currently looks:
Goaltender: Mariah Fujimagari.
Defender: Meg Delay, Marie-Jo Pelletier.
Forward: Corinne Buie, Brooke Stacey, Kim Brown, Becki Bowering, Cassidy MacPherson, Emma Ruggiero.
Beginning May 15, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2018-19 roster and their draft picks. Additionally, for those players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, NWHL Free Agency provides the best opportunity to continue playing at the highest level of professional women’s hockey. The fifth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Minnesota Whitecaps look to defend their Isobel Cup championship.
My colleague Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on Metropolitan and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.