Buffalo’s Ruggiero Looks to Bring Speed, Scoring Touch to Beauts’ Lineup
By Nathaniel A. Oliver
At 4-foot-11, Buffalo Beauts forward Emma Ruggiero may be one of the most diminutive players in the NWHL, but she is lightning-fast on the ice. She also has a positive personality and a gigantic heart.
"I would definitely say that my speed is a huge part of my game,” said Ruggiero. “Off and on the ice, I believe that I am a strong teammate, a good teammate, and I put my team first.”
A Buffalo native, Ruggiero has rejoiced over the opportunity to play professional hockey for her hometown team. Her enthusiasm to be a Beaut has intertwined with her own coaching endeavors. In addition to playing in the NWHL this season, Ruggiero also coaches the Kenmore High School girls' hockey team. She feels that she is able to better connect with her athletes because she is still playing the game herself.
"I have always been around younger players," Ruggiero explained, while also sharing that she has accompanied her father while he coached her younger sister. "The fact I am still playing hockey is helping me be able to coach and understand what my players are going through. Being patient. Some drills and some skills aren't easy to pick up right away. I like being able to help slow it down sometimes for the girls. Not all players learn the same. Everyone learns differently."
Ruggiero recognizes that shaping certain hockey skills can take time. Despite being Buffalo State College's team captain and the team's leading scorer (14-10-24 in 25 games) in her senior season in 2018-19, offense did not come right away.
"Honestly, it took me a long time to figure it out, but really, I just shoot,” Ruggiero said. “I try to find a lane and I don't look for the perfect shot. I think most of my goals are wrist shots just because that is the quickest shot you can get off. But honestly, any way that I can get the puck to the net."
OVERTIME WITH EMMA
A Career Comedic Highlight: “It was during my senior year at Buff State. I went up to take a faceoff. Like in any faceoff, you drive into the other team's center. I go to do that, and I hang on for a second to delay her. But I go to skate away, and I can't! For a second I couldn't figure out what was happening. I thought she was holding on to me. It took me a few seconds to realize, 'Oh! Our helmets are clipped together!' She started to shove me, but I couldn't get free from her. I kept telling her, 'It's not my fault - our helmets are stuck together.' We stood there for about 20 to 25 seconds before anybody blew the whistle."
A Favorite Postgame Meal: "Growing up, after games a lot of times my dad would just pick up a pizza or we'd go to Bob & John's up on Hertel, and I'd be able to absolutely crush two or three slices – especially in my college years – I'd just inhale them after games."
Ruggiero and the Buffalo Beauts play Connecticut in their season-opening weekend at Northtown Center at Amherst. Start times are 11:30 a.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are just $15 and are available now at www.NWHL.zone/tickets and at the arena on game days.
Photo Credit: Mike Hetzel
Images Courtesy: Emma Ruggiero