An award of The USA Hockey Foundation, the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Four-time Olympian Angela Ruggiero (Simi Valley, Calif.) will give the keynote address and two-time Olympian AJ Mleczko (Nantucket, Mass.) will serve as master of ceremonies at the 2016 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Ceremony and Brunch March 19 at Wentworth By The Sea, in New Castle, New Hampshire, it was announced today by USA Hockey.
Both are past winners of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award with Mleczko winning in 1999 and Ruggiero in 2004.
The Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey by the USA Hockey Foundation. The award is part of the festivities associated with the NCAA Women's Frozen Four, which takes place at the Whittemore Center Arena on the University of New Hampshire campus in Durham, New Hampshire.
Ruggiero is a four-time Olympian (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010) who was recently inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2015 and the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Ruggiero was a dominating force on the blueline throughout her 15-plus-year career with the U.S. Women’s National Team and has played more games (256) in a Team USA uniform than any other ice hockey player in the country’s history.
Ruggiero helped the U.S. claim the first-ever gold medal awarded in women’s ice hockey in the Olympic Winter Games in 1998 as the youngest member of the team and went on to win three other Olympic medals (silver-2002, 2010; bronze-2006). She was named the top defenseman in the Olympic Winter Games in both 2002 and 2006.
Ruggiero competed at 10 IIHF Women’s World Championships, including four gold medal finishes (2005, 2008, 2009, 2011), and was honored as the tournament’s top defenseman four times (2001, 2004, 2005, 2008). She also competed at eight Three/Four Nations Cups, the 1996 Pacific Women’s Championship and was a three-time member of U.S. select teams. She accumulated 208 points (67-141) during her time in a Team USA sweater. In 2003 and 2004, she was named USA Hockey’s Bob Allen Women’s Player of the Year.
Ruggiero made history in 2005 when she and her brother, Bill, competed for the Central Hockey League’s Tulsa Oilers and became the first brother-sister pair to play together in a professional hockey game in North America. That game also represented Ruggiero becoming the first non-goalie to play in any men’s professional hockey game in North America.
Ruggiero played college hockey for four seasons at Harvard University, where she won the national championship in 1999, and was a four-time NCAA All-American, an Academic All-American.
She also played four years of professional hockey before retiring in 2011.
Mleczko was first named to the U.S. Women's National Team in 1995 and went on to play for the U.S. Women's Olympic Hockey Team at the 1998 and 2002 Olympic Winter Games, helping the U.S. claim the first-ever Olympic gold medal awarded in women's ice hockey in 1998. She also won silver in 2002. Mleczko tallied eight points (three goals, five assists) in 11 career games at the Olympics.
As a member of the U.S. Women's National Team, Mleczko was a defenseman who skated for Team USA at three International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championships (1997, 2000, 2001), tallying two goals and 11 assists for 13 points in 15 career games. Over the course of five Three/Four Nations Cups (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002), she registered 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 23 career games.
The native of Nantucket, Massachusetts, Mleczko also represented the U.S. at the Pacific Championships in 1995 and 1996.
Mleczko played college hockey at Harvard University and served as team captain her senior season. She led the Crimson to the NCAA championship title in 1999, recording 37 goals and 77 assists for 114 points in only 34 games during her senior season, the most prolific scoring season in women's college ice hockey history. In 1999, she was named the second winner of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award and earned USA Hockey's Bob Allen Women's Player of the Year Award. She was also named to the 1999 American Women's College Hockey Alliance All-America First Team. She helped Harvard win the Beanpot Tournament in 1995 and 1999 and was inducted into the Women's Beanpot Hall of Fame in 2011.
Mleczko and the 1998 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team was enshrined into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2002, she was inducted into the New England Women's Hall of Fame.
Upon her retirement, Mleczko began working in broadcasting and has served as a commentator for NBC Sports at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
NOTES: Tickets to the 2016 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Ceremony and Brunch are on sale now and can be purchased here. For more information about Patty Kazmaier, the award, and the Top-10 finalists, visit PattyKaz.com. Top-3 finalists for the award are expected to be announced on Thursday, March 3. The Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is supported, in part, by a grant from the NHL Foundation.