Hockey Hall of Fame inducts James and Granato

This article can be found published on Chicks Who Give a Puck.
Angela James and Cammi Granato became the first women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. (Reuters.com)

Angela James and Cammi Granato became the first women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. (Reuters.com)

The Hockey Hall of Fame holds the names of hundreds of great men who have had different impacts on the game of hockey and have created lasting memories. On Monday night, the Hall of Fame made an impact on the game themselves when Angela James and Cammi Granato became the first female inductees into the Hall.

Angela James was born on Dec. 22, 1964 in Toronto. She started her career playing ball hockey in Toronto with the boys in her neighborhood and played ice hockey at Seneca College. After, she played in the Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League where she led her team to several OWHA league and provincial championships. She was chosen several times to play for Team Canada in tournaments, excluding the controversial decision to leave her off the Olympic roster. James scored 34 points (22 goals, 12 assists) in 20 games over four women’s world championship. Dubbed the “Wayne Gretzky of women’s hockey,” she ended her career with seven gold medals from the World Championships, 3 Nations Cups and IIHF Women’s Pacific Rim Championships.

James was inducted in the Ontario Ball Hockey Association Hall of Fame, the OCAA Hall of Fame in 2006, the Black Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, became on of the first females inducted into the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame, along with Granato and Geraldine Heaney, in May 2008 and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

Some of the highlights from James’ speech:

“When I received the call from the Hockey Hall of Fame committee I knew that this was something very special. I was overwhelmed with excitement, emotion, but the warmth and the welcome by the Hall, the Hall of Fame committee, the staff, it was just a very familiar feeling to me and that was a feeling of family. I believe this is what the Hall represents – unbelievable people, great hockey players and history. They have me a feeling like I was adopted into a new family, except this family was all boys and it needed some girls. So, here we are today.

“I used to run hockey schools back in the days and I would always arrange for a visit here to the Hockey Hall of Fame for different groups and would always be in amazement about the class of athletes and read all about the great legends inducted. If you would have ever asked me if I would be standing here today, not in a lifetime.

“When I was a kid I didn’t think hockey was just for boys. I though everyone played hockey, because that’s what we did as kids. Hockey is what I did and hockey is what I still do today.

“I loved competing for my country. I loved competing for my province. I enjoyed the rivalries with Team USA and Team Finland and playing against Cammi Granato and Cindy Curley in the early days, especially that backdoor play Cammi seemed to be able to sit there and have a cup of coffee before she put one by us many, many times.

“I guess as I stand here on this historic day for women’s hockey, I reflect on the past months and what this induction has meant to myself, my family, friends and so many women and girls playing the great game of hockey. I can only say I feel very privileged to be one of the first females to lead us into the Hall of Fame. The time is right, we are here. We do exist. Thank you very much.”

Catherine “Cammi” Granato was born on Mar. 25, 1971 in Downer’s Grove, Ill. She spent 15 years playing on the U.S. Women’s National Team, beginning in 1990 and ending after her retirement in 2005. Along the way, she became the program’s all-time scoring leader with 343 points (186 goals, 157 assists) in 205 games. She finished her career with four gold and 16 silver medals from the Olympics, IIHF World Women Championships, 4 Nations Cups and IIHF Women’s Pacific Rim Championships.

Among her awards, she received the 1996 USA Hockey Women’s Player of the Year and the 2007 Lester Patrick Trophy.

Granato was the one the first females inducted into the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame, with James and Heaney, in May 2008 and the first female in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Oct. 2008.

Some of the highlights from Granato’s speech:

“This is absolutely incredible. I am in awe that I am standing here. I’d like to thank the committee for not only considering us, but believing in us and accepting us and understanding that we love the game as much as men do. You’re changing the face of women’s hockey alone just by allowing us into this club.

“Angela [James], facing off against you year after year, there were times I’d get on the ice and see you and say, ‘Not again.’ There was one time, in particular, where I finally beat you on a faceoff and I felt a stick across the back of my legs. She did not like that I beat her. There is not another player I played against that had such a presence on the ice.

“Playing boys hockey for me was really fun. I never thought anything of it unless one of the people pointed it out. I was just another hockey player. There was a time I played with my cousin Bobby and we were in a tournament in Edina and our coach overheard the other coach say, ‘I want you to hit the girl on the first shift and take her out.’ Our coach came into the locker room and said, ‘Bobby, you’re No. 21 today.’

“When I look back at my national team, U.S. career highlights, I obviously think of Japan in 1998. There is nothing like winning an Olympic gold medal. We had an amazing team, great team chemistry and it was the most special thing I’ve been a part of.

“Robby, my brother, once told me, ‘Shoot for the moon because if you miss, you’re going to hit the stars.’ Well Robby, tonight I hit the moon.”

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Categories: Ice Hockey, Sports

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