Monday, 9 December 2013

The Distinguished Dozen: Women of power and influence in hockey for 2013

Mandi Duhamel 
Manager of Female Hockey Development, Hockey Canada

                A fixture in women’s hockey in Ottawa, Duhamel carved a tremendous legacy in Canada’s capital region. From competing with the Ottawa Gee-Gees at the CIS Women’s Nationals to serving as a coach with the Carleton Ravens (which included a stint with the National Team at the 2011 Winter Universiade), Duhamel earned a reputation as one of the region’s shining stars.

2013 would mark her first full year as a member of Hockey Canada’s management team. With it brought an opportunity for others throughout the country to appreciate her acumen. As the Manager of Female Hockey Development, she is working to increase the quality of the game at the grassroots level while strengthening the world-class reputation of Hockey Canada’s U18 and U22/Development Teams.

Providing a fresh perspective, she has been involved in various facets of the game including the 2013 CIS Nationals and World Girls Hockey Day. Also known for her charitable work, she provided assistance to flood ravaged victims near Calgary, Alberta over the summer.

Jaclyn Hawkins
President, Women’s Hockey Life
Assistant coach, Connecticut Huskies

From serving in a public relations capacity with the Clarkson Cup champion Boston Blades to a coaching role with the Connecticut Huskies, Hawkins has had an eventful year. Returning to her alma mater (Connecticut), the program has already surpassed their win total from the 2012-13 season.

As the founder and president of Women’s Hockey Life, Hawkins has revolutionized the game. Setting the standard for networking and providing fans and players with a forum to share their thoughts, Hawkins has helped the game grow by a quantum leap.

One of the definitive resources for women’s hockey, her site rates equipment, allows fans (both male and female) to connect with blogs, while providing an online networking database for players and coaches to connect. Devoted to covering the growing game on a global scale, she is helping to erase borders while providing opportunities for fans and players to share in their love of the game.

Geraldine Heaney
2013 Inductee, Hockey Hall of Fame

Becoming the third woman inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame was a great moment in not only Geraldine Heaney’s career but in the modern day revival of women’s hockey. While she was called the Bobby Orr of women’s hockey, perhaps the day shall come when aspiring young female defenders shall be called The Next Geraldine Heaney.

With the IIHF Women’s Worlds being held in Ottawa this year, it held very special meaning for Heaney. Besides playing in an outdoor game on the Rideau Canal, she would also coach her daughther and the rest of the Ancaster Avalanche at the OWHA Provincials (also held in Ottawa). In addition, the Canadian hockey heroes from the 1990’s reunited during the intermission of the Canada vs. Finland for a special reunion, providing an opportunity for a new generation to appreciate her contribution to women’s hockey.

Hilary Knight 
Forward, United States national team

Hockey’s girl next door, Hilary Knight has captured the hearts and minds of women’s hockey fans throughout America. Her rookie campaign with the Boston Blades was one of legend. Despite finishing third in the CWHL scoring race, she would lead all American-born players in scoring. In addition, she would become the first American-born player to garner the CWHL’s Most Valuable Player Award. She would cap off her CWHL campaign with the Clarkson Cup.

Heading into the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Knight is riding a remarkable wave of momentum. From being part of a hockey demonstration in Times Square to being featured on a trading card by The Topps Company, her star is on the rise. A gold medal at Sochi would provide her with membership in the Triple Gold Club for Women (Clarkson Cup, IIHF Gold, Winter Games Gold). Complemented by an NCAA Frozen Four in 2011, it would make her the second American woman (behind Jenny Potter) to accomplish the feat.

Amanda Kessel 
Forward, United States national team

Having staked her claim as one of the world’s finest women’s hockey players, Kessel had a year to remember in 2013. Her talents would help her become a media sensation on both sides of the border, as she led the Minnesota Golden Gophers to an undefeated season and the NCAA Frozen Four title.

With an outstanding 100-point season, she was also the winner of the Patty Kazmaier Award. Her strong season caught the attention of USA Hockey. Competing with Team USA, she would help the squad earn the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds. The win was enhanced by the fact they defeated Canada on their own home ice, which was the first time Canada lost an IIHF gold medal game at home.

Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer 
Chairperson, IIHF Women’s Committee

One of those ground-breaking hockey players that most fans have never heard of, Kolbenheyer was the first registered female ice hockey player in her native Hungary. A former General Manager with the Hungarian national team, she has served as a member of their governing board since 2012.

As one of only two women that are members of the IIHF’s council (the other being Beate Grupp), her role as a builder of the women’s game internationally shall be significant. Also contributing as the chair for the IIHF Women’s Committee, her experience as a former player is relevant in helping to shape the future of women’s hockey into a prosperous one.

Shannon Miller
Head Coach, Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs
IIHF Coaching Mentor, Russia

Quite possibly the greatest coach in the history of women’s hockey, Shannon Miller has carved a legacy with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs that may be unmatched. The 2013-14 season would start with Miller enjoying the 350th win of her distinguished NCAA coaching career. Having shattered barriers by becoming the first coach to proactively recruit international talent to the NCAA, her expertise would also lead to becoming part of the IIHF Mentorship and Coaching program. Serving as a coaching mentor with the Russian national team, she was a huge factor in the squad earning the bronze medal at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds.

Digit Murphy
Head Coach, Boston Blades
IIHF Coaching Mentor, Slovakia

Having made the transition from NCAA hockey to the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Murphy did so in remarkable fashion. Serving as the head coach of the Boston Blades, she would not only lead the club to its first-ever regular season title, but to their first-ever Clarkson Cup. While it is hard to believe it is the first championship in Murphy’s career, it was one that helped establish a strong CWHL presence in New England.

Fran Rider 
President, Ontario Women’s Hockey Association

One of the silent heroes in hockey, Rider has devoted her entire life to the game. From serving as the President of the OWHA to a member on the board of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Rider is one of the most respected women in the hockey community. A highly deserving candidate for the Order of Hockey in Canada, Rider’s efforts have helped shape Ontario into the world’s finest region for women’s hockey. 

Angela Ruggiero 
Member, IIHF Athletes Committee
Member, International Olympic Committee
President, Women’s Sports Foundation

Having retired from the game has not diminished Ruggiero’s impact from the game. As the President for the Women’s Sports Foundation in the United States, she is committed to helping women’s sport grow at all levels. Serving with the IIHF on numerous committees, she is also a member of the International Olympic Committee. Her strong leadership will ensure that women’s hockey continues to experience growth for future generations.

Sami Jo Small
Goaltender, Toronto Furies
Co-founder, Canadian Women’s Hockey League

The heartbeat of the CWHL, Small has contributed towards the transformation of a fledgling league into one drawing significant sponsorship dollars while attracting some of the world’s finest women’s hockey talent. A co-founder of the league, she is one of only two founders (the other being Liz Breton) still competing. Small has devoted many countless hours towards improving the state of the game while also donating valuable time for charitable efforts.

Recognized with the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2013, Small’s efforts are beginning to yield sustainable results. From working towards establishing a relationship with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames to creating a culture of competition built on respect, Small’s legacy in providing talented women with a place to play should one day lead to a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Katey Stone
Head coach, United States national women’s team  

As the head coach of the United States squad that shall compete at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Stone shall be on the world’s biggest stage for hockey. Having established herself as one of the greatest coaches in NCAA history, her tenure with the Harvard Crimson is one of legend.

The list of players that have competed for her at Harvard reads like a venerable who’s who of hockey; Jennifer Botterill, Caitlin Cahow, Julie Chu, Angela Ruggiero and Sarah Vaillancourt, to name a few. Having led the US to gold at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds, she is hoping the momentum shall carry over into the USA’s first medal at the Winter Games in women’s hockey since 1998.

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