Congratulations go out to Joseph Ruggiero of Pelham, who on Tuesday night was named the winner of the annual Emile Francis Award for “tireless efforts, sacrifices, dedication and service to youth hockey.”
Ruggiero was presented the award on the ice at Madison Square Garden by native New Yorkers and former Rangers Nick Fotiu (Staten Island) and Brian Mullen (Hell’s Kitchen) who both got their starts in local youth hockey programs.
The award is named for the long-time former Rangers coach and general manager Emile “The Cat” Francis, “whose contributions on and off the ice, and his commitment to local amateur hockey in the tri-state area made a significant and enduring impact,” as it was stated by Garden public address announcer Joe Tolleson between periods of the Rangers-Montreal Canadiens game.
According to the announcement, Ruggiero “has spent decades using hockey to have a positive impact on kids and in the local community. After creating Learn to Play clinics in the Westchester area, he began serving as a volunteer coach in Pelham Youth Hockey’s in house and travel programs. He also assisted with the Pelham (Memorial) junior varsity program.
“For over 10 years he led the Eastchester High School hockey team before shifting his focus back to where he began, as a volunteer coach with the New York Raptors, a program focused on providing opportunities for developmentally challenged athletes.
“The commitment he has demonstrated over the past 29 years does not stop on the ice as he has been a dedicated member of various charities such as Ice Hockey in Harlem, Pelham’s Civic Association Scholarship committee and as a volunteer with the local recreation commission.”
The award is presented by World Yacht.
Photo, above, courtesy of Madison Square Garden.