08 July, 2015

NCAA Legend Nicole Corriero Competes with Team Italy

A little over a decade ago, Nicole Corriero carved a legacy as one of the greatest players in the history of NCAA hockey. Known affectionately as “Scorriero”, her ability to light the lamp established her as a world-class competitor. Extending her proud hockey legacy, the chance to play for Team Italy at the 2015 World Street Hockey Championships in Zug, Switzerland was an opportunity for a new group of fans to appreciate her superlative skills.

Her greatest performance on the ice occurred on November 7, 2003 against Union College. Not only did she become the second player in NCAA history to record ten points in one game (fellow Crimson alum Jennifer Botterill was the first), she also tied Jenny Potter’s record for most goals in one game with six. Having graduated from Harvard University with the NCAA record for most game-winning goals in a career with 27, she also tied the all-time collegiate record for goals in a season with an astounding 59 goals in a season.

Recognized with the Mary G. Paget Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Women's Athletics at Harvard University, she was also bestowed the honor of the 2005 Youth Achievement Award by the National Congress of Italian Canadians. As a side note, she also had the chance to play with other distinguished players of Italian heritage at Harvard, including Vanessa Bazzocchi, Angie Francisco and 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Angela Ruggiero.

At this year’s World Street Hockey Championships, the chance to see Corriero back in competitive hockey was the event’s feel-good moment. Taking into account that Corriero once considered the opportunity to compete for Team Italy at the 2006 Torino Winter Games, the chance to don the Italian jersey at the 2015 edition of the Worlds represented a special career milestone.

Adding to the magic of the experience was the fact that Corriero was joined by several other Italian-Canadians on the roster. Toronto-raised Christina D'Ambrogio served as the team captain, joined by her sister Pamela on the squad. As a side note, the Italian roster also featured two competitors from the Canadian Women’s Hockey League: 2014 Clarkson Cup champion Kori Cheverie from the Toronto Furies, and the Brampton Thunder’s Liz Knox. Although she was the first rookie goalie to start a Clarkson Cup championship game, Knox was not between the pipes for Italy. In street hockey, Knox, whose experience also involves pro hockey in Australia, competed on the blueline.

“It was extremely enjoyable to play with some fellow Italian-Canadians on this team.  We have similar backgrounds, family traditions and upbringings which was fun to relate to.  We got along extremely well, which is not always possible on these types of teams.  I had never played a game with these players before, so the first few games were really just getting to know each other. 

That being said, we were able to mesh pretty quickly.  My linemates, Kori Cheverie and Annalisa Mazzarello were both exceptional hockey players, and it felt as though we were able to gel quite quickly, which made the experience even more fun for me.” 

Working in the legal profession, Corriero came across a fellow attorney who had known a member of the Italian team. The encounter would result in serving as the factor to reignite the love of the game that made Corriero such a charismatic and likeable athlete at Harvard.

“A lawyer I deal with is friends with Luisa Filaccola (sister of our GM and teammate).  This lawyer, upon learning that Luisa was involved with Team Italy, and knowing that I had a background in hockey and am Italian, put us in touch. 

She actually made the connection back in 2013, prior to the World Championships in Newfoundland – but it was too late notice and I couldn’t carve the time out of my schedule to make it happen.  We stayed in touch, and when they contacted me last year in advance of these WC’s in Switzerland, I jumped on the opportunity.” 

Still possessing strong scoring skills, Corriero ranked tenth overall in tournament scoring, although her point total tied two other competitors. In every one of Italy’s victories, Corriero factored in the team scoring. A June 23 victory against Switzerland saw Corriero contribute her finest performance of the event with two goals and two assists, as part of a convincing 6-2 final. 

Registering a pair of assists in the third period, Corriero’s strong playmaking abilities helped Italy prevail against Great Britain by a 3-1 tally. Despite a June 25 loss to the United States, she kept Italy competitive with a solid two-point output. Although Italy finished the tournament with an appearance in the fifth place game, such a strong showing during said tournament was testament to Corriero’s abilities to serve as a catalyst on offense.

Playing for the love of the game, Corriero displayed how exciting and energizing the game could be. Employing the values of sportsmanship, Corriero shone as an ambassador for Team Italy as the hockey world gained the privilege to catch up with Corriero in Zug. From new friendships to getting reacquainted with the fluency of the rink, they were the elements that contributed to her rediscovering why she loved to play, resulting in many memorable moments.

“I have a lot of fond moments from my time in Zug, Switzerland.  I had a great time not only getting to know my teammates, but also, the other players from all over the world.  I will pick two moments – an in-game moment and off-arena moment. 

My on-arena moment was our first game versus Switzerland.  We played in a full arena, against the host team with an energetic crowd.  Our team was coming off of a tough loss to Team Canada and we really pulled together to win convincingly against the Swiss.  Everyone was on top of their game and played really well.  

Off-Arena, my favourite moment was when my team had a family dinner in the hallway of our hotel.  We took tables from our rooms and put them outside, a bunch of the ladies cooked pasta, tomato sauce, and made some salad, and we all sat together for an incredible meal like a family.  It was a wonderful moment and a great bonding opportunity for our team to kickstart the tournament.”

 

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Images supplied by Nicole Corriero

 

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