In a hockey off-season filled with the usual stories about free agency, trades and draft picks, one story outshines them all. Women’s hockey legend Geraldine Heaney earns entry into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Having grown up in nearby Weston, Ontario, it is the culmination of a dream come true. Her body of work on the ice is one that may never be duplicated again. As the defender of the Canadian national women’s team from 1990 to 2002, Heaney helped to not only define the position, but built a legacy that would influence future generations of young girls.
The defining moment of her career came at the 1990 IIHF Women’s World Championships. Scoring the gold-medal winning goal against the United States, said goal was featured on Hockey Night in Canada as one of the best goals of the year.
She would follow that performance by winning the Directorate Award for Best Defender at the 1992 and 1994 IIHF Women’s Worlds. While she would become the first (and only) competitor to win seven consecutive gold medals at the IIHF Women’s Worlds, it merely scratches the surface of her remarkable career.
As a teenager, Heaney joined the Toronto Aeros in 1979, and played with the club well into the 2000’s. Her legacy with the Aeros is undisputed. She would play in 15 consecutive Esso National Women’s Championships (from 1987 to 2001), a mark that no other women’s hockey player in Canada could match.
Of note, the year 1987 would mark another milestone for Heaney. As a member of Team Ontario, she competed in the first women’s world hockey championships. Although the event was not sanctioned by the IIHF, it is the event that proved to the IIHF that a women’s world hockey championship was viable.
At that time, the winner of the Canadian national women’s championships was given the right to represent Team Canada. As the runner-up was the Mississauga Warriors, they would become Team Ontario. While Heaney was not a member of the Warriors, she was allowed to be added to the roster for the tournament.
Worth mentioning, Angela James (the first female visible minority inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame) and Chris Pellerin (who coached the Canadian national ball hockey team) also played with Heaney on Team Ontario. Although Team Ontario settled for the silver medal in the All-Canadian final (as Team Canada claimed gold), it was a landmark moment in her career.
Complementing her sensational career was the fact that she claimed four national championships, in which the winner was awarded the Abby Hoffman Cup. The first came in 1991, followed by triumphs in 1993, 2000 and 2004. In her last Cup win, she would score the Cup-winning goal for a 2-1 overtime win against the Calgary Oval X-Treme.
With the induction ceremony taking place on November 11, 2013, it is unique to know that this is not the first Hall of Fame that Heaney shall be a member of. In 2003, she was named to the Ontario Ball Hockey Association Hall of Fame.
That was followed by the Ontario Collegiate Athletic Association recognized Heaney for her one season with the Seneca College Scouts. In 2008, she joined Angela James and long-time rival Cammi Granato as the first three women inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. Should the CWHL ever have a Hall of Fame, there is no question that Heaney deserves entry as well.
Although her playing career reached its inevitable end years ago, she is still part of the game. Coaching her young daughter with the Ancaster Avalanche, there is no question that a new generation of girls will benefit from an expertise of the game that is truly Hall of Fame worthy.