YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Phantoms are proud to announce that defenseman Steven Ruggiero has committed to play college hockey at Penn State University following his USHL career.
“We’re extremely proud of [Ruggiero],” said Phantoms Head Coach & General Manager Anthony Noreen. “We love the way he went through the process, and the reasons that he chose Penn State. They’re a program on the way up, and they’re trying to build an identity. He’s the type of character kid that you can build a program around.”
The Kings Park, New York native is the 16th player on the Phantoms’ current roster to earn a NCAA Division I hockey scholarship, and the second to be committed to Penn State, joining recent acquisition Bo Pellah.
“As a ’97 defenseman, [Ruggiero] has gone through the rigors of what the USHL is all about,” added Noreen. “I think he’s been extremely mature through all of it. As a player, you don’t see very many guys that are 6’3”, 220 [pounds] that can skate the way he does and have the type of instincts that he does. His future is so bright, as long as he keeps developing his overall skillset. He has a pro-type body, and he can anchor a blue line.”
Ruggiero, 17, was the Phantoms’ first round selection in the Phase I draft this past summer. The defenseman has tallied one assist in 14 games played this season, his first in the USHL. He has added 10 penalty minutes and 10 shots on goal.
“The facilities were the best I’ve seen in all of my visits,” said Ruggiero on Penn State. “The coaching staff was great—everything about Penn State was really nice. It was a good fit for me academically, and the hockey down the road is only going to get better in the Big Ten.”
Penn State, coached by Guy Gadowsky, is currently competing in the Big Ten’s inaugural ice hockey season. The program moved to the NCAA Division I level in 2012-13.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)