25 Greatest Women's Hockey Players from Ontario
Jayna Hefford (left) and Gillian Apps (right) (Photo from http://vancouverisawesome.com/2010/02/22/team-canada-women/)
In compiling a list of the 25 greatest women’s hockey players (and eight honorable mentions) that were born and/or raised in the province of Ontario, one of the greatest women’s hockey regions in the world, it is important to remember the contributions of women like Fran Rider (president of the OWHA) and Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion in their roles as builders for the game. The 1986 Supreme Court case involving Toronto resident Justine Blainey (who would one day compete for the Toronto Lady Blues and the Brampton Thunder) and her struggles with the Metro Toronto Hockey League helped to open the doors for prominent girls to play with boys.
The first IIHF women’s world hockey championship was held in Ottawa, Ontario in 1990. The roster for the gold medal-winning team consisted of 14 players from Ontario, the most of any Canadian province. In addition, the game-winning goal to clinch the gold medal was scored by Geraldine Heaney, hailing from Weston, Ontario.
Other women from Ontario were also crucial in helping to build the game today. Samantha Holmes, who staged letter-writing campaigns to Juan Antonio Samaranch, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the Hon. Hazel McCallion, who helped make women’s ice hockey at the winter games a reality, was from Mississauga, Ontario. She would play at the University of New Hampshire and form the Strathmore Rockies.
Another prominent factor is the Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League (COWHL) and its role as the predecessor to the NWHL and the current CWHL. While the COWHL represents a lost generation that is, tragically, an afterthought in the minds of the modern women’s hockey fan, many of its stars helped set the table for today’s stars; Sue Scherer, Margot Verlaan, Marianne Grnak, Colleen Cohen, Sue Harley, Tracy Horton, Leslie Hood, Heather Ginzel, Linda DeAngelis and Robin Brown. Coaches and leaders such as Colin McKenzie, Bob Phillips, Lee Trempe and Ken Dufton were also important in creating a foundation.
While some players of the COWHL made this top 25 list, it is crucial to remember the COWHL’s contributions in helping to build the game and develop many of the stars that would one day compete for Canada at the Nagano Winter Games.
Honorable Mention: Sara Bauer, Forward, St. Catherines, Ontario
Photo from John E. Van Barriger / words-photos.com
A member of the NCAA 200-point club, Bauer won the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2006. She would be the second Canadian woman (after Jennifer Botterill) to win the award. One of the greatest players in the history of the Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey program, Bauer is one of the few Badgers legends that did not graduate to a career with her respective national team.
Drafted by the Brampton Thunder in the 2012 CWHL Draft, Bauer’s absence from the game after her collegiate career has been a great loss to its fans.
Honorable Mention: Vicki Bendus
Awarded the 2010 Patty Kazmaier Award (Photo by Andy King, Mercyhurst Athletics, Obtained from Toronto Star website) http://www.thestar.com/sports/college/article/782919--what-a-difference-a-day-makes-for-kazmaier-award-winner
The leading scorer for Canada at the 2011 MLP Cup, Bendus is one of only four Canadian women to have won the Patty Kazmaier Award (given to the most outstanding player in the NCAA). With the Mercyhurst Lakers, she helped the squad capture four consecutive College Hockey America Regular Season and Postseason championships. Bendus finished her NCAA career with 190 points and was the co-NCAA scoring champion for the 2009-10 season.
The fourth overall selection in the 2011 CWHL Draft, Bendus helped the Brampton Thunder to the championship game of the 2012 Clarkson Cup finals. A current member of the Canadian national team, Bendus is a key part of the squad’s future.
Honorable Mention: Kendra Fisher, Goaltender, Kincardine, Ontario
Photo courtesy of Twitter, @Kendra_Fisher30
One of the first hockey players (male or female) to speak out publicly on mental health, Fisher was an accomplished goalie. A member of the Toronto Furies in their inaugural season, Fisher was the backup goaltender to Sami Jo Small. Prior to joining the Furies, Fisher had appeared in multiple Esso Women’s Nationals as a member of Team Ontario.
Honorable Mention: Liz Knox, Stouffville, Ontario, Goaltender
Knox accepting the Brodrick Trophy (Courtesy of Canadian Interuniversity Sport)
The 2011 winner of the Brodrick Trophy (awarded to the Most Valuable Player in Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s hockey), Knox played for the national powerhouse Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks. One of her greatest moments came at the 2011 Winter Universiade in Eruzum, Turkey, when she stood between the pipes for the Canadian women’s team that claimed the gold medal.
During the 2011-12 CWHL season, she led the Brampton Thunder to the championship game of the Clarkson Cup. Despite the loss, the CWHL rookie netminder was recognized as the Most Outstanding Goaltender.
Honorable Mention: Cherie Piper
Photo from Hamilton News website http://www.hamiltonnewslive.co.nz/news/kids-to-gain-from-visiting-player/1434551/
Along with Gillian Apps and Katie Weatherston, Piper was one of three Dartmouth Big Green players that helped Canada capture the gold medal at the 2006 Torino Winter Games. During her stellar career with Dartmouth, she accumulated 225 career points, while being named a finalist for the 2005 Patty Kazmaier Award.
She first played for the Canadian national team in 2001. At the IIHF Women’s Worlds, Piper has claimed one gold medal (2004), and three silver medals (2005, 2008, 2011). An accomplished inline skater, she has also won two gold medals for Canada at the World Inline Championships.
Honorable Mention: Jamie-Lee Rattray, Forward, Kanata, Ontario
Rattray in action with the Ottawa Senators of the PWHL (Courtesy of Ottawa Senators)
One of the great moments in Rattray’s career at Clarkson came on October 22, 2011, as she scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over the New Hampshire Wildcats. It marked the 150th victory in the history of the program. Her first two seasons at Clarkson have seen her accumulate 63 points while being named the Clarkson University Female Rookie of the Year in 2011.
Other accolades have included being named the October 2011 ECAC Player of the Month and a nominee for the 2012 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award. In April 2010, she helped the Canadian Under-18 squad win gold at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. Upper Deck would feature a hockey card of her in their 2011 World of Sports collection.
Rattray would don the maple leaf again in January 2012, as she was the leading scorer for Canada at the Meco Cup (three goals, three assists, six points). A consummate team player, Rattray is an inspiration to many native Canadian girls looking to play hockey. She competed at the 2010 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Ottawa, Ontario.
Honorable Mention: Dominique Thibault, Forward, L’Orignal, Ontario
Thibault has won 2 Clarkson Cups with the Montreal Stars (Courtesy Canadian Women’s Hockey League)
A Franco-Ontarian, she was nicknamed Dangerous (for her ability to score timely goals) by author C. Michael Hiam.
At the NCAA level, Thibault competed with the Connecticut Huskies (2006-09) and the Clarkson Golden Knights (2009-10). After her rookie campaign with Connecticut, she was named to the 2007 Hockey East All-Rookie team.
With Clarkson, Thibault helped the Golden Knights reach the ECAC Championship finals for the second time in program history. In addition, she was a big factor in Clarkson qualifying for their first ever NCAA Tournament while serving as their leading scorer.
In autumn 2009, she competed with the ECAC All-Star team that played the US national women's ice hockey team. For her NCAA career, she accumulated 112 points with Connecticut (including a 49-point season in 2007-08) and 40 points in her only season with Clarkson.
Of the numerous awards she claimed with Connecticut, she was named a 2008 Second Team RBK All-American while being named a 2007-08 Hockey East First Team All-Star and earning the 2008 Hockey East Player of the Year honor. A two-time Clarkson Cup champion with the Montreal Stars, she was named first star of the 2011 Clarkson Cup championship game.
Honorable Mention: Catherine White, Brampton, Ontario
In action with the Cornell Big Red (Photo courtesy of the Brampton Guardian)
On August 23, 2007 in Ottawa, Ontario, Catherine White made Canadian women’s hockey history. She scored the first goal in the history of the Canadian National Women’s Under-18 program.
The year 2007 would be a landmark one for White, as she won a gold medal with Team Ontario Red at the 2007 National Women’s Under-18 Championship. She would skate with future CWHL draft picks Rebecca Johnston, Laura MacIntosh, Natalie Spooner and Jennifer Wakefield as Team Ontario claimed the gold medal at the 2007 Canada Winter Games. In addition, she would lead Mississauga to a bronze medal at the 2007 OWHA provincials.
With the Canadian national team, White claimed the silver medal at the 2008 IIHF World Women’s Under-18 Championships, the first ever World Under-18 tournament. As a member of the Canadian Under-22 team, she would win gold medals at the 2010 and 2011 MLP Nations Cup, respectively.
After her freshman season with Cornell (2008-09), White won three awards, including Cornell Rookie of the Year, ECAC Rookie of the Year and Ivy League Rookie of the Year. This would be complemented by nods to the ECAC Second All-Star team, the ECAC All-Rookie team and the Ivy League Second All-Star team. White led all ECAC freshmen in scoring with 44 points.
During the 2009-10 season, White had a breakout season as she led Cornell in scoring with 42 points. White was named 2010 ECAC Player of the Year as she led the Cornell Big Red to the NCAA championship game versus the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. She would amass 166 career points in the NCAA.
One of the most talented players in the history of the Cornell Big Red, White amassed points. Selected by the Toronto Furies in the CWHL draft, one of her teammates with Toronto (and with Cornell) is the remarkable Rebecca Johnston.
25. Laura Schuler, Forward, Scarborough, Ontario
Better known as a coach than as a player, Schuler was a member of the 1998 winter games team (the first Canadian women’s ice hockey contingent) that competed in Nagano. A veteran of the Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League (the predecessor to the NWHL and CWHL) in the 1990’s, Schuler had a remarkable collegiate career with the Northeastern Huskies of the NCAA and the Toronto Lady Blues in the CIS.
Schuler was also the head coach at Northeastern University and the head coach of the Canadian Under-22 national team which won the Bronze Medal at the 2012 Meco Cup. Currently, she serves on Shannon Miller’s coaching staff with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
24. Erin Ambrose, Newmarket, Ontario, Defense
Celebrating the 2012 IIHF Under-18 World Championship win (Photo courtesy of Hockey Canada)
Quite possibly the greatest player to have represented Canada at the Under-18 level, Ambrose was a captain for two consecutive IIHF Under-18 World Championships (2011 and 2012). A solid, consistent player, Ambrose is currently competing for the Clarkson Golden Knights in the NCAA. She is one to look for at the 2018 winter games for Canada.
23. Margot Page, Stoney Creek, Ontario
Image obtained from InsideHalton.com, Photo from Hockey Canada
A member of the NCAA 200-point club, Bauer won the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2006. She would be the second Canadian woman (after Jennifer Botterill) to win the award. One of the greatest players in the history of the Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey program, Bauer is one of the few Badgers legends that did not graduate to a career with her respective National Team.
Drafted by the Brampton Thunder in the 2012 CWHL draft, Bauer’s absence from the game after her collegiate career has been a great loss to its fans.
22. Andria Hunter, Forward, Peterborough, Ontario
Image obtained from IceHockeyWikia.com
Although Andria Hunter is more famous for her contributions in creating the first in-depth website dedicated to women’s hockey, she was also a competitive hockey player. She helped Canada claim the gold medal at the 1992 and 1994 IIHF Women’s World Championships. In addition, Hunter played for the prestigious University of Toronto Lady Blues hockey team. By the end of the 1990s, she played with the University of New Hampshire Wildcats.
In 2002, she was named the winner of the Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Award.
21. Katie Weatherston, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Forward
Courtesy of Clean Air Champions
A member of the Canadian team that claimed a gold medal in women’s hockey at the Torino winter games, Weatherston was a member of the Canadian national team for three years. She participated in the Four Nations Cup (2004, 2005) and was part of the Canadian squad that claimed the gold at the 2007 IIHF Women’s Worlds. She also claimed two gold medals with the Under-22 team at the 2004 and 2005 European Air Canada Cup.
With the Dartmouth Big Green, she had a storied career. Having joined the Big Green in 2002-03, Weatherston was named to the 2003 ECAC All-Rookie Team in addition to any All-Ivy selection. After the 2004-05 season, she was named to the New England Writers Association Team, along with nods to the All-Ivy second team and an All-ECAC selection.
As a youth, Weatherston was also a prominent soccer player. She was a member of the Canadian Under-19 National Soccer Team and claimed a gold medal with Team Ontario at the 2000 Canada Summer Games.
20. Cathy Philips, Dundas, Ontario, Goaltender
Phillips holds ceremonial faceoff Image from http://www.frontenacnews.ca/2007/march_15/girls_hockey.html
A teammate of Angela James for three seasons with the Burlington Diesels, Phillips enjoyed a 17-year career in the COWHL. With James, the Diesels won the 1983 Abby Hoffman Cup. At the 1987 World International Tournament for Women (not sanctioned by the IIHF), she helped Team Canada beat Team Ontario (featuring Angela James) in the gold medal game.
A two-time MVP award winner, she was the COWHL’s top goaltender an astounding 14 times. At the first IIHF Women’s Worlds (held in 1990), Phillips stood between the pipes for the gold medal-winning team.
19. Cheryl Pounder, Defender, Mississauga, Ontario
Photograph by James Hamilton
A member of the famed Beatrice Aeros team, she participated with the squad at three Women’s Canadian National Hockey championships. In 1999 and 2001, Pounder and her Aeros teammates claimed the bronze medal. In 2000, Pounder was part of the gold medal championship team that was awarded the Abby Hoffman Cup. With the CWHL, Cheryl Pounder participated with the Mississauga Chiefs.
She would help Canada claim the gold medal in women’s ice hockey at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games and 2006 Torino Winter Games, respectively. In addition, she won five IIHF Women’s World Gold medals (1994, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004) and one silver in 2005. At the 2005 IIHF Worlds, she would be selected to the Tournament All-Star team.
18. Nicole Corriero, Forward, Toronto, Ontario
Courtesy of NCAA.com
Known affectionately as “Scorriero” in junior hockey, Corriero captained the North York Junior Aeros and the Scarborough Sharks.
A three-time All-America selection at forward, Corriero is considered by many to be one of the greatest goal scorers in the history of NCAA hockey. She still holds the NCAA single-season record for most goals scored in one season with 59. Many hockey pundits consider it one of the unbreakable records in NCAA women’s hockey.
During the 2004-05 season, Corriero earned the honor of being named captain of the Harvard Crimson. She would break the record for most goals scored in one season on March 5, 2005. The previous record was held by Tammy Lee Shewchuk (of Harvard) and Vicky Sunohara (of Northeastern) with 51.
The winner of the 2002 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Award, Corriero would be the first Harvard skater to win the Sarah Devens Award. Other prominent records that she holds at the NCAA level include most points scored in a game with 10 (a record she shares with Jennifer Botterill). Corriero accomplished the feat on November 7, 2003 vs. the Union Dutchwomen.
In that same game, she tied the NCAA record (also held by Jenny Potter) for most goals scored in a game with six.
17. Karen Nystrom, Forward, Scarborough, Ontario
Photo courtesy of UOIT (http://www.uoitridgebacks.com/varsity/w-hockey/coaches.htm)
Karen Nystrom’s career runs an almost similar path to Laura Schuler. Not only was she a member of the 1998 Nagano winter games team, but she also competed in the COWHL (with the Toronto Red Wings and Newtonbrook Panthers), the NCAA (with Northeastern) and in the CIS (with Toronto).
Before Nystrom entered the realm of coaching with the Ontario Institute of Technology (one of the greatest players Nystrom ever coached was Jill Morillo, the 2012 winner of the Marion Hilliard Award), she worked for sports apparel firms Nike and Under Armour.
16. Haley Irwin, Forward, Sudbury, Ontario
Photograph by: Luis Acosta , AFP/Getty Images Files
Like Rebecca Johnston and Tessa Bonhomme, Haley Irwin helped put Northern Ontario on the women’s hockey map. One of the greatest players for the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, Irwin is a member of the NCAA 200-point club.
If Irwin can add a Clarkson Cup to her list of accomplishments, she would only be the third woman to have won the Cup, Winter Games gold, IIHF World gold and an NCAA Frozen Four (the first two were also Bulldogs players, Caroline Ouellette and Jenny Potter).
15. Nadine Muzerall, Forward, Mississauga, Ontario
Playing in Switzerland for Lugano (courtesy of HockeyTime.net)
Between 1999 and 2001, women’s college hockey in the United States was in a buffer period. This gray zone was a transitional period in which the national championship had been endorsed by the ACHA (American Coaches Hockey Association). Starting in the 2000-01 season, the NCAA sanctioned the title and implemented the Frozen Four.
During this period, one of the biggest superstars in American collegiate hockey was Nadine Muzerall. As a freshman, she logged 32 goals and 32 assists to earn team MVP with Minnesota while also being named a Second Team All-American. Featured in Sports Illustrated, Muzerall led the Minnesota Golden Gophers to a national championship in 2000 over Digit Murphy’s Brown Bears squad. Muzerall would log the game-winning goal and was named to the All-Tournament Team.
The season saw Muzerall log an astounding 77 points (on 49 goals and 28 helpers). She led all college players in goals, power-play goals, power-play points and game-winning goals. Her 49 goals still remain as the single-season record in Golden Gophers history.
Her Golden Gophers career ended with a first-place mark in goals (139), goals-per-game (1.08), power-play goals (40) and shots (726). Although she was invited to the Canadian national team evaluation in October 2000, she never had the opportunity to shine for Team Canada.
In 2007, Muzerall and Erica Killewald were inducted into the Golden Gophers "M" Club Hall of Fame, the first women’s hockey players to be inducted. In 2011, her hockey gloves were displayed at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
14. Jennifer Wakefield, Forward, Pickering, Ontario
In her rookie season with the Toronto Furies (Photo by Brandon Taylor)
The all-time scoring leader in Hockey East history, Wakefield competed with the New Hampshire Wildcats and the Boston University Terriers. Wakefield helped both teams reach the NCAA Frozen Four.
As a teenager, Wakefield competed in the CWHL as a member of the Vaughna Flames. In 2012, she returned to the CWHL as a member of the Toronto Furies.
Along with Natalie Spooner, Rebecca Johnston and Brianne Jenner, the foursome played together for Team Ontario at the 2007 Canada Winter Games. The team went undefeated and claimed the gold medal in one of the most dominant performances in CWG history.
In the autumn of 2009, she was invited to the selection camp for the 2010 Vancouver winter games, but was not selected to the final roster. As one of the future superstars for Hockey Canada, Wakefield will certainly be part of the Sochi 2014 roster.
13. Brianne Jenner, Oakville, Ontario, Forward
Courtesy of InsideHalton.com (Photo by Hockey Canada)
Like Jennifer Wakefield, Jenner was a teenaged hockey prodigy invited to the Vancouver winter games selection camp. Although she was another late cut at the camp, Jenner has a bright future ahead.
A prodigious talent, Jenner has already established herself as one of the greatest players in the history of the Cornell Big Red. In only two seasons with Cornell, she joined the NCAA 100-point club. After her first season with the Big Red, she was named the 2010-11 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, and a 2010-11 First Team All-Ivy selection.
As a teenager, Jenner played in the CWHL with the now-defunct Mississauga Chiefs. At the 2008 National Under-18 championships, she was appointed the captain of Team Ontario Red. She led the squad to the gold medal, including logging the game-winning goal in double overtime of the gold medal game.
12. Rebecca Johnston, Forward, Sudbury, Ontario
Promotional photo for 2010 Vancouver Winter Games (Courtesy of CTV)
The first player in Cornell Big Red history to be named ECAC Rookie of the Year and ECAC Player of the Year, Johnston helped to turn the Big Red into a national power. Along with teammates such as Natalie Spooner and Jennifer Wakefield, the three went undefeated with Team Ontario in a superlative gold medal triumph at the 2007 Canada Winter Games.
The second overall selection in the 2012 CWHL draft, Johnston is a prominent scorer that is looking to bring a Clarkson Cup to the Toronto Furies franchise.
11. Lori Dupuis, Forward, Cornwall, Ontario
Photo from city of Cornwall web site
A power forward for the Canadian contingent that competed at the Nagano and Salt Lake City Winter Games, Dupuis set the foundation for future power forwards like Gillian Apps, Jesse Scanzano and Shannon MacAulay. Having played with Andria Hunter for the Toronto Lady Blues of the CIS, Dupuis enjoyed a stellar career with the NWHL and CWHL.
As a longtime member of the Brampton Thunder, Dupuis competed in multiple Esso Women’s National Tournaments and boasts a CWHL league title from the 2007-08 season.
10. Natalie Spooner, Scarborough, Ontario
Courtesy of Hockey Canada
The first woman to have played for the Canadian national team at the Under-18, Under-22 and Senior level, Natalie Spooner is the future of Hockey Canada. The all-time leading goal scorer in Ohio State history, Spooner currently competes for the Toronto Furies in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
9. Becky Kellar-Duke, Hagersville, Ontario, Defense
With her four Winter Games medals (Courtesy of InsideHalton.com)
The former captain of the defunct Burlington Barracudas, Kellar’s presence on the ice was an invaluable factor in three winter games medals for the Canadian national team. Kellar competed for the National Team from 1997 to 2010. She would win the gold medal in four IIHF Women’s Worlds (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004) and claim three silver medals (2005, 2008, 2009).
Having played for the prestigious Brown Bears, Kellar played for the legendary Digit Murphy, the first woman to win 200 and 300 games at the NCAA level. The 1994-95 season would see Kellar log an impressive 49 points season. In addition, she would be named the Bears MVP after the 1995-96 season.
Like so many other prominent players on this list, Kellar was a former member of the legendary Toronto Aeros squad. At the 2000 and 2004 Esso Women’s Nationals, she helped her teams claim the Abby Hoffman Cup.
Stoic, dignified and a leader by example, she was one of only four women (along with Jennifer Botterill, Jayna Hefford and Hayley Wickenheiser) to have competed in the first four winter games women’s ice hockey tournaments. The stay-at-home defender had a great presence on the ice.
8. Tessa Bonhomme, Defense, Sudbury, Ontario
Photo obtained from Twitter (@Tessab25)
The most popular player in women’s hockey today, Bonhomme’s career has seen her continuously make history. With the Ohio State Buckeyes, she became the first player to win both the WCHA Player of the Year award and the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year Award in the same season. With the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, she became the first player ever drafted in the history of the CWHL Draft.
In addition, Bonhomme is a prominent television celebrity. Her first television appearance was on Wipeout Canada, and her great charisma found her competing on the popular Canadian program Battle of the Blades. As the first women’s hockey player to compete (and win) in the program, she parlayed her success into a correspondent position with Leafs TV. Having appeared on the cover of The Hockey News in October 2012, Bonhomme’s star is shining brighter than ever.
7. Gillian Apps, Forward, Unionville, Ontario
Syl Apps, Sr., a 3-time Stanley Cup winner (courtesy of Wikipedia) and Gillan Apps celebrating gold at Torino (from IceHockeyWikia.com)
A third-generation star, Apps is the grandfather of Syl Apps, former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs (and runner-up in the NHL scoring race for the 1936-37 and 1937-38 seasons). She proudly followed in her grandfather’s footsteps when she was named captain of the Dartmouth Big Green.
Her father, Syl Apps, Jr., competed for the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings. Having won her first winter games gold medal at Torino 2006, she followed it up with another at Vancouver 2010. A longtime member of the Brampton Thunder (like many other players that appear in the Top 10), Apps appeared in the 2010 and 2012 Clarkson Cup finals.
6. Vicky Sunohara, Forward, Scarborough, Ontario
Serving as head coach of the Toronto Lady Blues (Photo from U of Toronto, Pursuit Photo)
Having competed at three winter games (Nagano, Salt Lake City, Torino), Sunohara was one of the first modern women’s hockey stars. A prominent player at the NCAA and CIS level (with Boston’s Northeastern University and the University of Toronto), Sunohara was one of the superstars of the COWHL. In the league that preceded the NWHL and the CWHL, Sunohara competed for the Scarborough Firefighters, Toronto Red Wings and the Newtonbrook Panthers.
With Northeastern, Sunohara was a multiple All-American and NCAA Rookie of the Year. Upon joining the Toronto Lady Blues, she was named the team’s Rookie of the Year. Her first appearance with Team Canada came at the 1990 IIHF Women’s Worlds, where Sunohara claimed the gold. Sunohara logged six goals and three assists in that landmark event.
5. Geraldine Heaney, Defense, Weston, Ontario
Photo from International Ice Hockey Federation
Known as the Bobby Orr of women’s hockey, Geraldine Heaney scored one of the greatest goals in the history of the game. At the first ever IIHF sanctioned women’s hockey championships (contested in Ottawa, Ontario in 1990), Heaney scored the game-winning goal to clinch the gold for Canada. Her goal was selected as one of the 10 greatest goals of the year by Hockey Night in Canada.
Heaney enjoyed an 18-year career with the Toronto Aeros (in the COWHL and NWHL); she joined the Aeros as a 13-year-old. She competed in every Canadian national championship from 1987 to 2001. After retiring, she spent several seasons as a head coach with the Waterloo Warriors in Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
One of the first two Canadian women named to the IIHF Hall of Fame, the mother of two is destined to be the next woman named to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
4. Angela James, Forward, North York, Ontario
Angela James (left) and Cammi Granato inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame
The first Canadian woman (and second black hockey player behind Grant Fuhr) to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Angela James was the first modern-day women’s hockey superstar. Also a member of the IIHF Hall of Fame (one of only two Canadian women in the club), James won eight Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League (COWHL) scoring titles (from 1987 to 1994 and another in 1996), six COWHL MVP awards and four IIHF World gold medals. Her greatest season with the Aeros was the 1991-92 campaign, where she logged 40 goals and 30 assists in 28 games, while winning the Abby Hoffman Cup.
Her first team in the COWHL was the Toronto Islanders, in which she played as a 14-year-old. Future teams would include the Burlington Diesels, the Agincourt Canadians, the Brampton Canadettes (Fran Rider was one of her teammates), the Mississauga Warriors and the Toronto Aeros. At the first IIHF Women’s Worlds in 1990, she scored 11 goals and logged two assists for a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
The greatest game of her career for Canada came in the gold medal of the 1994 IIHF Worlds (held in Lake Placid), where she scored two goals in a 6-3 win (the two goals put Canada up 3-1 in the second period) and was named game MVP.
The Angela James Bowl is named in her honor and given to the leading scorer in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Jennifer Botterill of the Mississauga Chiefs was the first winner of the award in 2008.
3. Meghan Agosta-Marciano, Forward, Ruthven, Ontario
Photo courtesy of Montreal Stars
The all-time leading scorer in NCAA history, she became Canada’s sweetheart when she scored a hat trick on her 19th birthday at the 2006 Torino Winter Games. Named the female Sidney Crosby, the best was yet to come.
With the expectations of a nation heading into the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Agosta delivered the goods. She led all competitors in scoring as she helped Canada claim its third consecutive gold medal in women’s hockey while being named the Most Outstanding Player of the games.
Agosta would follow her remarkable 2010 hockey year with a record-setting performance in 2011 as a member of the Mercyhurst Lakers. The greatest injustice to her NCAA career was that she never won the Patty Kazmaier Award (given to the best player in NCAA women’s hockey).
The 2011-12 hockey season would see Agosta continue to build her remarkable legacy. As the first overall pick by the Montreal Stars in the 2011 CWHL draft, the move paid outstanding dividends. By season’s end, she would break teammate Caroline Ouellette’s record for most points in one CWHL season with 87. In addition, she won the CWHL Most Valuable Player award.
Agosta would continue her magical season by helping the Stars win the 2012 Clarkson Cup. She would finish the season with a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Burlington, Vermont to gain entry into the Triple Gold Club for Women (a player that wins the Clarkson Cup, Winter Games gold and IIHF World Gold). Agosta was the first woman from Ontario to gain entry into the Triple Gold Club.
2. Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Forward/Defense, Brampton, Ontario
Photo by Al Bello, Getty Images
The first Canadian winter games captain (of either gender) to lead Canada to back to back gold medals in 50 years, Cassie Campbell is the greatest team captain in the history of women’s hockey. As a teenager, she played in the COWHL with the Mississauga Warriors and would eventually play for the Toronto Aeros.
Her CIS hockey career found her competing with the Guelph Gryphons. Campbell also participated in women’s hockey at the 1991 Canada Winter Games, the first time that the CWG incorporated women’s hockey as an event. She made her debut with the Canadian national team at the 1994 IIHF women’s worlds in Lake Placid, where Campbell enjoyed a gold medal.
Heading into the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, Campbell was a pop culture icon. Campbell was featured on the covers of Elm Street and Chatelaine magazines. In addition, she was on cans of Chunky soup with Don Cherry and was featured on boxes of Maple Frosted Wheaties with Brendan Shanahan. While Manon Rheaume (her teammate at Nagano) was a superstar for playing with men, Campbell became the first superstar to play against women.
Once her playing career was over, Campbell became a Saturday night fixture on the popular program Hockey Night in Canada. A member of the Canada Sports Hall of Fame and the first woman to be named to the Order of Hockey in Canada, it is only a question before the IIHF Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame grant her membership.
1. Jayna Hefford, Forward, Kingston, Ontario
Photo from National Speaker's Bureau
Having played in more than 200 games for Hockey Canada, Jayna Hefford has assembled a body of work that few players can compare. Hailing from hockey hotbed Kingston, Ontario, Hefford was a member of the first Canadian winter games team. In addition, she is one of only four Canadian women (along with Jennifer Botterill, Becky Kellar and Hayley Wickenheiser) to have played in the first four winter games women’s hockey competition.
The greatest moment of her career came when she scored the game-winning goal in the gold medal game at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games. Said goal was scored with one second left in the second period. What makes the goal even more remarkable is that Canada was given over a dozen penalties in the contest (which drew criticism over the officiating).
In 1995, Hefford started to build her legend when she was the captain of the gold medal-winning Team Ontario squad at the 1995 Canada Winter Games. One of her teammates was Samantha Holmes, whose letter-writing campaigns helped made competitive international women’s ice hockey a reality. When she competed with the Toronto Lady Blues of the CIS (known as CIAU at that time), she was the 1996-97 OWIAA scoring champion and its Rookie of the Year.
Having competed at 12 IIHF World Women’s Championships, Hefford was named Top Forward at the 2004 and 2005 tournaments. In 1999 and 2000, she was Canada’s leading scorer, with 11 and eight points, respectively.
The 100th goal of her career for Canada was scored in a contest against Finland on November 10, 2006. Said goal made Hefford the third Canadian to reach the milestone. In that same game, she set a Canadian record for most points in one game with seven (three goals, four assists).
The 200th game of her career with Hockey Canada was one of legend. The game was a January 1, 2010 contest versus the United States at ScotiaBank Place in Ottawa. Her mother and Brampton teammates Lori Dupuis and Vicky Sunohara were part of the pre-game ceremony. Hefford scored a shootout goal on Jessie Vetter to win the game for Canada.
After the inaugural CWHL season in 2007-08, Hefford was named the first ever MVP in the league’s history while helping Brampton win the first ever CWHL postseason championship. In that same year, she was named the top forward at the 2008 Esso Women’s Nationals. She was also the top forward of the 2005 Esso Women’s Nationals.
A member of the Brampton Thunder since 1999 (the squad competed in the NWHL until 2007), Hefford claimed the 2009 Angela James Bowl as scoring champion in the CWHL (69 points in 28 contests).