1998 Women's Olympic Team to be Inducted into U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The 1998 U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Team, which included three former Crimson players and Harvard volunteer coach Sara DeCosta and was led by head coach Ben Smith ’68, will be enshrined into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, USA Hockey announced Tuesday.

The 1998 U.S. women’s roster included former Harvard skaters Sandra Whyte ’92, A.J. Mleczko ’97-99 and Angela Ruggiero ’02-04. Mleczko was the inaugural winner of the Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the nation’s top women’s collegiate player, while Ruggiero earned the honor in 2004. DeCosta won three games in net for Team USA and is entering her third season on the Crimson bench.

The date and location of the official induction ceremonies associated with the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2009 will be released in August.

“This is a truly magnificent class,” said Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey. “Each member of the Class of 2009 has had an extraordinary impact on our sport and is most deserving to take their place among the hockey immortals in the United States.”

Under the tutelage of Smith, a three-time letterwinner with the Harvard men’s hockey team, the team captured the first gold medal awarded in women’s hockey at the Olympics. At the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, the squad twice defeated Team Canada, including a 3-1 victory in the gold medal game.

Team USA finished the Olympics with a perfect 6-0-0 record and outscored its opponents, 36-8, in the process. The U.S. squad also had a significant impact on the growth of girls’ and women’s hockey across the United States thanks, largely, to its success at the Olympics.

Inductees to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame are chosen on the basis of accomplishments in the game of hockey, sportsmanship, character, contributions to their team(s) or organization(s) and contributions to the game of hockey. A nominee must have distinguished him/herself by exceptional performance and outstanding character reflecting favorably upon the game of hockey.

Other 2009 inductees to the Hall of Fame include Tony Amonte, Tom Barrasso, John Leclair and Frank Zamboni.

Photo of Angela Ruggiero '02-04 courtesy of USA Hockey.