Stone, who led the 1999 women’s hockey team to 33 victories, a Beanpot title and a national championship, says this year’s edition of the Crimson is the finest she’s ever coached.
“This is our most talented team to date,” said Stone, now entering her ninth season at the Harvard helm. “There’s no question about that. We’re very deep compared to where we were in the past.”
All but two players—forward Vanessa Bazzocchi and goaltender Alison Kuusisto —return for this season. In addition, Harvard welcomes not only a large freshman class but also tri-captain Angela Ruggiero, who took off two years to train for last years Olympic Games, and former captain Jennifer Botterill, who took off last year. They rejoin a team that finished the year ranked ninth in their absence.
Two of the nation’s leading three returning scorers are among that group in tri-captain Kalen Ingram and sophomore Nicole Corriero. Corriero, second in the nation in scoring with 32 goals and 30 assists, earned ECAC and Ivy Rookie of the Year honors. Ingram led the nation in assists per game but was overlooked for All-American honors.
“Kalen Ingram is a very good center, a tremendous center,” Stone said. “She’s the most underrated player in college hockey in my opinion.”
Botterill, Ruggiero and a third Olympian—freshman Julie Chu—will make an immediate impact this season, fresh off their rivalry in Salt Lake City last winter. Botterill played for the gold-medal winning Canadians while Ruggiero and Chu settled for the silver as part of Team USA.
Now the three will work for a common goal as they join up on the Bright ice.
“When we get on the ice and everybody’s wearing a Harvard jersey then that’s all that matters,” said tri-captain Jamie Hagerman.
Botterill and Ruggiero are no marginal Olympians either. They’ve each been acknowledged as the best in the world at their position at some point in their careers. Botterill was the MVP of the 2001 World Championships, and Ruggiero was named the most outstanding defenseman of the Olympics. Both were members of the 1999 national championship team.
“She’s the best defenseman in the world, there’s no question,” Stone said. “She could probably come close to playing for our guys, I think. She’s tremendous and in the best possible shape she could be in.”
In addition to being an outstanding defenseman, Ruggiero’s ability to quickly shift from defense to offense makes her a tremendous two-way threat. She scored 21 goals in each of her first two seasons.
Like Ruggiero, Chu was a member of the silver-medal winning U.S. Olympic Team in Salt Lake City.
Her versatility will be an important asset to the Crimson this year and her international experience should have her more than prepared for collegiate-level action.
“She’s a tremendous [player],” Stone said. “She can play defense, wing [and] center.”
Though the Olympians are certainly a valuable addition to the squad, Stone does not want her other players to merely sit back and watch as the action unfolds around them.
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