Granato, Heaney, James named to International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame

QUEBEC CITY -- Cammie Granato, Geraldine Heaney and Angela James made women's hockey history Thursday.

The trio became the first female players inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame, along with Mario Lemieux, Russian great Igor Larionov and the first French player ever to skate in the NHL, Philippe Bozon.

Longtime U.S. hockey boss Art Berglund also entered as a builder, while former referee Juraj Okolicany of Slovakia earned the Paul Loicq Award for his contributions to the game.

"It's great because now we're finally being recognized not only in our own country but worldwide," said the 40-year-old Heaney, now coach of the women's team at the University of Waterloo. "There are so many young girls playing hockey now, it's amazing. I really feel we need to promote the game worldwide, not just in Canada, and inducting women now should help that."

The 37-year-old Granato, was the top American player during her 15-year career and played on the first Olympic gold medal team in 1998. She holds women's hockey records with 54 goals and 96 points.

Granato, who now lives and runs a business in Vancouver, was there for the start of international women's play and now breaks ground as one of the first Hall of Famers.

"The women's game is young and I think it was the right time," she said. "I was fortunate to be playing at the right time."

Later Thursday, Granato suited up for the IIHF alumni game, where she was to skate on a line with her brother, former NHL forward Tony Granato, and husband, former NHL forward Ray Ferraro.

Heaney, a defenseman, was on seven consecutive world championship teams in the 1990s, played in the first Olympics with women's hockey in 1998 in Nagano and won Olympic gold in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

The 43-year-old James was the first real star of women's hockey, scoring 22 goals in 20 games at the first four world championships, including 11 at the inaugural worlds in Ottawa. She is sports co-ordinator at Seneca College in Toronto.