Earlier I wrote about how the Hockey Hall of Fame has been failing when it comes to recognizing women in hockey. Instead of just saying they should put more women in the Hall, here is a list of some — not all — of the women who are deserving already of being there.
Vicky Sunohara – The Scarborough, Ontario native was once described as ‘the Wayne Gretzky of women’s hockey’. That moniker came about after she scored 51 goals in 25 games as a freshman at Northeastern University. She has three Olympic medals (two golds and a silver) and seven World Championships. She is one of the true pioneers of the sport and one of the greats in women’s hockey. Sunohara is currently the head coach of the women’s team at the University of Toronto. Her exclusion is likely the biggest travesty of the group and something that needs to be corrected immediately.
Cassie Campbell-Pascall – A former Team Canada captain, Campbell-Pascall is probably the most visible retired women’s hockey player thanks to her position on Hockey Night in Canada. Like Sunohara, the most impressive part of Campbell-Pascall’s resume is her international play. She captained back-to back Olympic gold medal-winning teams and was a part of six IIHF World Championships. Averaging a point per game in her Worlds career, the left winger was the face of Team Canada at a time when the sport was starting to take off. Add to her playing career the fact that she made history as the first woman to do color commentary for an NHL game, and there is no argument that Campbell-Pascall shouldn’t already be in the Hall of Fame.
Riikka Nieminen-Välilä – The Finnish forward has been playing internationally for her country since 1989. Over her professional career, she averaged almost three points per game and is currently fifth all-time in points by a woman in IIHF World Championship competition. At 1.66, her point per game average at Worlds is higher than legends like Cammi Granato, Jayna Hefford and Hayley Wickenheiser.
Natalie Darwitz – Though it wasn’t as long as some, Natalie Darwitz had one of the most spectacular careers of any woman. She is second all-time in points per game for the NCAA and holds the single-season scoring record, putting up 114 points in only 40 games during the 2004-2005 season. Adding to her incredible college career, Darwitz has the highest point-per-game average of any American woman in international play.
Guo Hong – If nothing else, the Chinese goaltender should be inducted in the builders category. Representing her country for more than a decade, Guo is widely recognized as bringing legitimacy to her national program. For a country that was often overmatched in international competition, Guo constantly stood on her head, making for exciting games and helping China gain confidence against the best in the world. The two-time Olympian led China to a fourth place finish in 1998 and led the 2002 tournament in saves.
Jenny Potter – Sitting behind only Hayley Wickenheiser for most Olympic points of all time, the former captain of Team USA is among the best NCAA players of all time. She sits seventh in total points and still owns the single game NCAA scoring record (6). With an Olympic gold and four World Championships under her belt, Potter is the most decorated player in Team USA history. She only retired last year, but she deserves to be among the next wave of women inducted to the HHOF.
Jennifer Botterill – The all-time leading scorer in NCAA history (149 goals, 170 assists, 319 points), Botterill is another from the golden age of Canadian Women’s hockey. She won gold medals in 2002, 2006 and 2010 and is among the highest scoring women ever to play for Canada. Botterill currently holds the highest point-per-game average of any retired player in the CWHL.
Gunilla Andersson – With an Olympic silver medal in 2006 to add to her bronze from 2002, she has more points than any other defender in World Championship history and is a key figure in the growth of Swedish hockey through the 90s.
Cherie Piper – Team Canada won every single Olympic hockey game that Piper took part in. The three-time gold medalist has the highest point-per-game average with 30 points in only 15 Olympic games.
Manon Rhéaume – Rhéaume should definitely be in the Hall of Fame as a builder, and she could also be a player inductee, too. She is the first woman to play in the QMJHL, IHL, ECHL and in an NHL preseason game, and was also in net for the Minnesota Whitecaps Clarkson Cup championship in 2009.
She was ahead of her time in terms to blazing a path to show women can be a part of men’s athletics. Though with the remarkable goalies playing now, it’s hard to know if she’s still among the best goalies of all time, the significance of her impact shouldn’t be lost. If nothing else Rhéaume earned the title ‘the first’ in a lot of what she did and that’s something that should be honored.
Fran Rider - Another for the builder category - this time at the grass roots. Rider is the first ever executive director of the Ontario Women's Hockey Association. Through her guidance in the 80s and 90s, the OWHA grew exponentially and gave young women the opportunity for organized youth hockey that didn't otherwise exist. Rider was the first woman recipient of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association Award of Merit.