Being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame is an honour beyond comparison for those fortunate enough to earn selection. For Cammi Granato, the reward came as much for her pioneering efforts in taking women's hockey to the world stage as it did for her prodigious scoring statistics in getting there.
|Cammi Granato captained the U.S. to
a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.
(The Hockey News/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Women's hockey was finally added to the Winter Olympic Games in 1998, with the location being Nagano, Japan.
The 1997 Women's World Championship served as a qualifier for the 1998 Winter Olympics. The top five teams from that tournament the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland and China were joined by the host country to participate in this landmark tournament.
Pundits predicted that Team Canada would face Team USA in the gold medal contest, with Canada favoured because they had won every previous competition in women's hockey.
The top four teams in the Olympic round-robin were able to advance to the medal round. Third-place Finland and fourth-place China competed for the Olympic bronze medal. The USA finished undefeated, blanking China 5-0, Dumping Sweden 7-1, doubling Finland 4-2, spanking Japan 10-0 and beating Canada 7-4. Cammi Granato, Team USA's captain, collected 4 goals and 4 assists in the preliminary rounds. The record allowed first-place USA to face archrival Canada, which finished in second-place, for the gold medal. While the round-robin games were held at the Aqua Wing Arena, but both medal-round games were played at the Big Hat Arena.
The dramatic gold medal game was played on February 17. There was no scoring in the first period, but Team USA broke the deadlock with a powerplay goal from Gretchen Ulion at 2:38 of the second frame.
|2010 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee Cammi Granato speaks at the podium after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
(Matthew Manor/Hockey Hall of Fame)
In the third, Shelley Looney scored a powerplay marker at 10:57 to give Team USA a 2-0 lead. Canada rebounded at 15:59 when Danielle Goyette collected a powerplay tally to pull the game closer. Both teams pressed, but were unsuccessful in adding to the score until Team Canada, in desperation, pulled its netminder in an attempt to tie the score and drive the deciding game into overtime. But Sandra Whyte was able to preserve the win for the United States with an empty net goal with 8 seconds remaining in regulation.
Team USA celebrated their gold medal at the inaugural Olympic tournament for women's hockey!
"For so many years, people told me, 'You aren't supposed to be on the ice. Why are you doing this? You're not going to go anywhere with this,'" Cammi recalled. "But now I have this gold medal around my neck, and it feels pretty good."
Cammi was also asked to be the flagbearer for the United States at the closing ceremonies of those Olympic Winter Games in 1998.
The astounding Olympic success was particularly eventful for Cammi. She earned endorsement deals from companies including AT&T, CBS and Nike. But more importantly, she used her newfound celebrity to further the popularity of women's hockey in the United States.
While her hockey career included many highlights, winning Olympic gold in 1998 has proven to be the pinnacle of Cammi Granato's professional life.
Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.