Gulls A-Z Profile: Scott Moldenhauer and Steven RuggieroSep 3, 2019
To commence the 2019-20 hockey season, teams around the NHL gather for rookie tournaments that give players the chance to show how they have improved in the offseason. Two collegiate-product defensemen, Scott Moldenhauer and Steven Ruggiero, will both be appearing in the upcoming 2019 Rookie Faceoff Tournament, hosted by the Anaheim Ducks. The tournament will give Moldenhauer and Ruggiero their first chance to show that they can be full-time players with the Gulls in the upcoming season.
After completing his four-year collegiate career in 2017-18, Moldenhauer impressed scouts and earned a one-year contract with the Ducks July 12, 2018. The Oak Ridge, N.C. native split his first professional season between the San Diego Gulls and Tulsa Oilers of the ECHL. After making his AHL debut with San Diego Nov. 25 at Stockton, Moldenhauer collected one assist (0-1=1) in 14 games with San Diego last season.
Moldenhauer excels at play in the defensive zone, using his large frame to block shots and clear players away from the front of the net. In addition, the 6-4, 225-pound undrafted defenseman also showed some offensive potential in his time with Tulsa, recording 10 assists with a +5 rating in 26 games. Moldenhauer helped lead the Oilers to the Western Conference Finals, picking up four assists while appearing in all 20 of Tulsa’s Kelly Cup Playoff games.
With the final game in his senior season at Lake Superior State University of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), Ruggiero concluded his college hockey career. The 6-3, 220-pound blueliner recorded a career-high 6-5=11 points with a +8 rating and 72 PIM in 37 games in 2018-19. Ruggiero spent his first two years at Providence College of Hockey East (2015-17) before transferring to Lake Superior St. where he spent his final two years of eligibility from 2017-19. Over a combined 70 NCAA games with the two schools he collected 6-8=14 points with a +13 rating and 111 PIM.
The Ducks selected Ruggiero in the sixth round (178th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft and that comes with certain expectations. Although he has yet to make his professional debut yet, Ruggiero signed an amateur tryout agreement (ATO) with the Gulls Mar. 22. The Kings Park, N.Y. native gained valuable experience after the signing as he spent time practicing with the Dallas Eakins-led Gulls late in the season.
The Gulls recently inked both Moldenhauer and Ruggiero to one-year contracts through the 2019-20 season to bolster their defensive depth. Both defensemen got their first taste of what life looks like in professional hockey and should aim to expand on that in the 2019-20 season. With the month ahead featuring the Rookie Faceoff in Irvine, training camps and pre-season games for both clubs, the two will aim to show they have developed enough to take that next big step as steady big-bodied blueliners for the Gulls.
SanDiegoGulls.com highlights each player from A-Z heading into the 2019-20 season, breaking down the roster and what's to come from each individual.