COLORADO SPRINGS, United States – Since the first three women were inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame during the 100-year anniversary in May 2008 with Cammi Granato (USA), Geraldine Heaney and Angela James (both Canada), the gates became open for personalities with a huge impact in women’s hockey in other organizations too.
After Granato was added to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame some month after her induction into the IIHF Hall of Fame, she and the whole 1998 U.S. Olympic Women’s ice Hockey Team became part of the Class of 2009, USA Hockey announced on Tuesday.
The heroes from Nagano had a powerful impact on the growth of girls' and women's hockey in the United States thanks to the success they enjoyed at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games – the first-ever with a women’s ice hockey tournament. The team twice defeated arch-rival Canada, including by a 3-1 count in the gold-medal game, en route to winning the first gold medal presented in women's ice hockey at an Olympic Winter Games.
The American success came to a surprise because Canada won all World Women’s Championships from 1990 until 2004. The U.S. became the second nation to win the competition in 2005, seven years after their miracle of Nagano.
Behind the guidance of head coach Ben Smith, the U.S. Olympic team finished the tournament undefeated (6-0-0) and outscored its opponents, 36-8. Cammi Granato, Karyn Bye, Katie King and Gretchen Ulion, co-led the U.S. with eight points each, while netminders Sarah Tueting and Sara DeCosta split time in goal, each winning three games.
The next step in recognizing achievements in women’s hockey could happen next year when the new Hockey Hall of Fame bylaws will allow a maximum of two female players to be inducted each year in addition to a maximum of four male players and two personalities in the builders’ category.
Tony Amonte, Tom Barrasso, John LeClair and Frank Zamboni will also be enshrined into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame as the Class of 2009.
Tony Amonte played a major role in one of the most memorable moments in U.S. hockey history when he scored the game-winning goal against Canada at 17:25 of the third period in the deciding game of the inaugural World Cup of Hockey in 1996. In 1,174 games over 15 years in the National Hockey League, Amonte registered 416 goals and 484 assists for 900 points, while playing for five teams (New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers and Calgary Flames). A five-time NHL all-star (1997-2001), Amonte currently ranks 11th on the all-time points list among American-born players. In addition to his stellar NHL career, Amonte starred on the international stage. A member of two Olympic teams (1998, 2002), he recorded four points in helping lead Team USA to the silver medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
Tom Barrasso, who won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1991, 1992), is one of the finest American-born goaltenders to play the game. Among U.S.-born netminders, Barrasso ranks first in National Hockey League playoff victories (61) and second in regular-season victories (369). In addition, he holds the NHL record among goaltenders for career points (48) and assists (48). During his 19-year NHL career, Barrasso played in 777 career games with six teams (Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues). The fifth overall pick of the Sabres in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, Barrasso became the only goaltender to play in the NHL directly from high school. Following his rookie season in 1983-84, Barrasso captured the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie after posting a 26-12-3 record and was also named the recipient of the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie. In addition, he earned a spot on the NHL All-Rookie Team and the NHL All-Star Team. The Boston native was a member of Team USA at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and helped the squad capture the silver medal.
The first American-born player to record three consecutive 50-goal seasons in the National Hockey League (1995-98), John LeClair played 16 years in the NHL and helped the Montreal Canadiens capture the Stanley Cup in 1993. LeClair, who also had stops with the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins in his distinguished career, registered 406 goals and 413 assists for 819 points in 967 career games. He currently ranks 13th on the NHL's all-time points list among American-born players. LeClair had arguably his best years as a member of the "Legion of Doom" line on the Flyers. In 10 seasons (1994-2004), the St. Albans native tallied 333 goals and 643 points as a Flyer, good for seventh on the club's all-time goals and points lists. A two-time Olympian (1998, 2002), LeClair ranked second on the team and third overall in points at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, helping lead Team USA to the silver medal.
Although he never laced up the skates himself, Frank Zamboni's legacy lives at nearly every hockey rink in the country. Born in Eureka, Utah, in 1901, Zamboni and his brother, Lawrence, moved to Southern California in 1920. After opening an ice plant for manufacturing block ice, Zamboni envisioned a new way to keep his business open after the growth of the home refrigerator. Along with his brother and cousin, Pete, the trio built a skating rink in 1940 and nine years later, Zamboni received the patent for the world's first self-propelled ice resurfacing machine. Zamboni brought his machines to the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley and at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, all ice resurfacing machines were Zambonis. In 2002, Zamboni was named the "Official Ice Resurfacer of the NHL," and in 2007, the 8,500th Zamboni was produced. A member of the United States Figure Skating Association Hall of Fame (2000), the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame (2006) and the National Inventors Hall of Fame (2007), Zamboni passed away in 1988.
"This is a truly magnificent class," said Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey. "Each member of the Class of 2009 has had an extraordinary impact on our sport and is most deserving to take their place among the hockey immortals in the United States."
U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductees are chosen on the basis of accomplishments in the game of hockey, sportsmanship, character, contributions to their team(s) or organization(s) and contributions to the game of hockey in general. A nominee must have distinguished him/herself by exceptional performance and outstanding character reflecting favorably upon the game of hockey.
The date and location of the official induction ceremonies associated with the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2009 will be released in August. The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame was founded in 1973. To date, there are 138 enshrined members in the Hall.
- With files from USA Hockey