Having carved a stellar legacy on the ice, Christina D’Ambrogio’s achievements are complemented by a ball hockey career that has grown by a quantum leap over the last few weeks. As an Italian-Canadian, she was very proud to compete with Team Italia at the 2015 World Street Hockey Championships in Zug, Switzerland.
Joined on Team Italia by the likes of CWHL stars such as Kori Cheverie and Liz Knox, along with NCAA scoring legend Corriero (who holds the NCAA record for most goals scored in one year, along with most game winning goals in a career), there was another teammate that enriched D’Ambrogio’s time with the squad.
As her sister Pamela, who played high school hockey at Martingrove with 2015 NWHL Draft Pick Jenna Dingeldein, was also named to Team Italia’s roster, it contributed to an unforgettable experience. Of note, the two would contribute assists on Italia’s first goal of the tournament, scored by Frances Russo as part of a 6-2 final against host country Switzerland.
“It was an indescribable feeling being able to share this once in a lifetime opportunity with my sister, Pamela, and play on the same line. We have not played together since high school so it’s been a while! Our family was so proud of the two of us – having not only one, but two jerseys with "D’Ambrogio" on the back while representing Team Italia on the front.
My most memorable moment with my sister was when we beat the Swiss and after the game Pam and I had our arms around one another when we proudly sang the Italian national anthem.”
Among her proud moments on the ice, D’Ambrogio has assembled an impressive body of work. Entering her senior year of high school, D’Ambrogio skated for the Etobicoke Dolphins during the 2006-07 PWHL season. Scouted at the Stoney Creek Showcase, it resulted in D’Ambrogio obtaining the opportunity to extend her ice hockey career. Earning a scholarship to compete with the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachussetts, she competed at the NCAA Division III level.
Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Holy Cross with a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics (her GPA was an impressive 3.78), her proficiency in the classroom was reflected with three consecutive nods to the ECAC East All-Academic Team. In addition, she earned the Rev. John J. MacDonnell Computer Science Award.
Having the honor of team captaincy bestowed upon her in her final season at Holy Cross (2010-11), her sparkling career culminated with her third consecutive ECAC Open Tournament championship. Lining up at the centre position, the final points of her NCAA career came in a multi-point effort against Southern Maine on Fenruary 20, 2011. Among the many highs she experienced with the program, one of the finest included a remarkable 24-2-1 campaign in 2008-09, resulting in a regular season crown.
Such leadership skills shone through once again as D’Ambrogio had the honor of the Team Italia captaincy bestowed upon her. Gracious and humble, she reflects on the jubilation of being named captain,
“I was honored and humbled when the coaching staff informed me I was named captain. I was not a part of the 2013 squad in St. John’s. Therefore, it meant a great deal to know that in such a short period of time all my teammates had the confidence and respect to trust my character, intuition and leadership. I had been committed to the team and my teammates since day one and I thrived on the challenge of such grave responsibility.”
The captaincy is complemented by a strong background in coaching and officiating, providing a well-rounded knowledge of the game. Since high school, D’Ambrogio has served as an ice hockey referee in the OWHA. Last season, she began lining in the PWHL and recently received her Level 3 certification.
During the 2012-13 PWHL season, D’Ambrogio served on Jerry Turi’s coaching staff with the Mississauga Junior Chiefs. Among the players that she coached was another accomplished Italian-Canadian athlete, Kristyn Capizanno, who would serve as Canada’s captain at the 2013 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds.
That season, D’Ambrogio experienced many coaching milestones. Of note, the Junior Chiefs claimed the Union Tournament Championship, Mississauga Christmas Tournament Championship, and emerged as silver medalists in the Provincials, which were held in Ottawa. It was experience that served her well in Zug, as she worked tirelessly to keep Team Italia competitive.
A game against the United States would hold high emotion for both D’Ambrogio and Corriero. Both were reunited with former NCAA teammates that suited up for Team USA. Former Holy Cross teammate Samantha Tetreault plus Corriero’s teammate from Harvard, Sarah Wilson, had both suited up for Team USA. Despite the loss, it was an opportunity for friends to reunite and play for the love of the game. In the aftermath, D’Ambrogio was recognized as the Most Valuable Player of the Game for Team Italia.
Among the remarkable lifetime of memories accumulated for D’Ambrogio, the most rewarding and personally satisfying stems from the remarkable friendships made. With approximately half of Team Italia’s roster comprised of Italian-Canadians, it resulted in an opportunity to share common ground while celebrating their heritage through a sport that has defined the sporting zeitgeist of the adopted homeland that their ancestors called home.
“You have no idea how special it was to play with so many other Italian-Canadians in Zug. It is hard to describe the connection you make with others when you realize your families share a similar history of immigrating to Canada and working hard so their children and grandchildren can have the opportunity to excel in life.
Even though my teammates and I range in age and have gone very different paths in life, we still connected and formed a special bond through our Italian heritage and our love for ball hockey. We formed friendships which will last a lifetime – we formed a famiglia!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”