Spotlight On: Rebecca Russo Shines

Entering her second professional season with the NWHL’s New York Riveters, star forward Rebecca Russo has already compiled quite the hockey resume. National Champion, three time Hockey East Champion, NWHL All-Star and winner of the Fastest Skater competition and holds 3 records at Boston University, Fastest Goal in a Game (0:12 seconds), Most Assists in a Game (5) and Latest Goal in a Game (0:03 seconds). Yet at the age of 23, there’s still more championships and more accolades in the horizon. 

After winning a National Championship with Shattuck St. Mary’s, Russo went on to Boston University where she played four seasons for the school’s D-1 Women’s Hockey Team, improving each year raising her point total from 21 points to 15 goals, 23 assists and 38 points in 39 games.

March 8, 2015 – Hyannis, Massachusetts – during the NCAA Hockey East Women’s Championship game between the Boston College Eagles and the Boston University Terriers held at the Hyannis Youth and Community Center. Eric Canha/CSM

Yet somehow, those numbers and her ability slipped through the cracks of NWHL scouts and Russo went undrafted in the NWHL’s 2nd Annual Entry Draft. However, Rebecca persisted and came into training camp with the New York Riveters for the 2016-17 season looking to earn a spot on the roster. “I went into camp with the mindset of making the New York Riveters. I prepared both mentally and physically for the camp and worked my tail off.” Said Russo. Not only did she do that, but she excelled. After cracking the roster, Russo went on to finish third in scoring on the New York Riveters and was selected to play in the 2017 NWHL All-Star Game. At the completion of the 2016-17 NWHL season, the New York Riveters offered Rebecca a second contract, bringing her back as a mainstay and cornerstone piece of the team for the 2017-18 NWHL season. “I am so incredibly blessed and honored to be able to continue to play the game I love most and to be a New York Riveter.”

If I had to describe Russo’s play, the first word that comes to mind is aggressive. She possesses some high end speed and uses that speed along with a high level of intensity to create pressure on her opponents and open up opportunities for herself and her teammates on the ice. In 18 games with the Riveters last season, Russo had 3 goals and 13 assists for 16 pts. Almost a point per game pace is nothing to sneeze at for any professional Rookie. Her game is predicated on her speed as well as her vision on the ice, you can tell watching her that even at a young age the game unfolds nicely for her as she put up 13 helpers last season. The speed, vision and passing skills all open up the ice for whoever she’s on a line with and I feel we’ll see a pretty nice jump in goal scoring as well for the 2017-18 season as a player who is an engine for her team.

Of course, speed doesn’t come from nowhere, it’s a gifted blend of natural hockey ability, a strong skating stride and constant training and work (see New York Rangers speedster Michael Grabner’s offseason Instagram). Rebecca trains at one of the best off-ice hockey facilities in the country at Prentiss Hockey Performance in Stamford, CT. Most Ranger fans will know Prentiss as where Martin St. Louis trained during the offseason and where current New York Ranger Kevin Shattenkirk, Boo Nieves, Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, and Pavel Buchnevich have trained. It’s no coincidence that the NWHL’s fastest skater trains in the offseason at one of the more grueling hockey training facilities and that’s just the beginning of the results of the hard work she’s putting in. Said Russo on working with Ben Prentiss “I am extremely lucky to workout alongside these incredible athletes and role models who help push me to further limits.  I have become a better hockey player in all aspects because of Ben Prentiss. I owe much of my success to him for training me to become the best professional athlete I can possibly be.”

Off the ice, Russo gained experience working for MLB/NHL Network in their Media and Productions department for a year and aspires to one day be a sports broadcaster (Sam, Joe and Rebecca anybody?). She now works at Zelouf International, a fabrics company in the Garment District of Manhattan. Her professional role models and good friends she looks up to are Linda Cohn, Deb Placey, Jamie Hersch and Kenny Albert. Having been a counselor for the Boston University hockey camps helping train young girls as well as leading private lessons and several motivational speeches at schools and ice rinks, Rebecca already understands the importance of giving back to the game that has already given her so much. “I am so extremely fortunate that this league was formed for athletes, like myself, that are not done playing the game we love most.  It’s time to give back and I have had the pleasure of making footprints for all the young girls that have the same vision and dream.  The NWHL allows young women to continue playing hockey after college at the highest level.  The leadership of this league is outstanding and they see the need for its existence.  I have played great hockey, met great people and made great friends along the way.  I have trained with the best and been surrounded by a wonderful network of athletes, professionals and friends, and I wouldn’t want to be trade this job for anything.” Said Russo. Both on the ice, in the gym and off the ice, Russo is a leader and role model who does things the right way.

Full Tilt will have Rebecca on with us on our next podcast 8/14 to talk about all things Riveters, Rangers, NWHL and NHL. “The amount of support we are getting for the NWHL is rapidly increasing so making these appearances and catching people’s eyes and ears is only helping us gain more and more support. I am so happy to be able to share my story on this podcast.” 

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