Wednesday, 19 April 2017


The woman in the photo wearing #17 was, for a long time, one of the few ambassadors this province had in women's hockey. Jennifer Botterill, a four-time Olympian with three gold medals and a silver medal, was announced on Tuesday as one of the inductees to the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in October, and I cannot think of a woman who has done more for her sport on and off the ice who is more deserving. The Harvard graduate, along with Sami Jo small, were the two prominent names that young Manitoban women could look up to when it came to setting goals in hockey for years, and it's nice to see the province recognizing Jennifer's importance to the game here at home and across the world.

Botterill scored 174 points in 184 games over her 14-year career with the Canadian national team. She helped Canada win gold at three straight Olympics starting in 2002 and was part of the silver medal-winning squad at the 1998 Nagano Games. Jennifer was also part of Canadian teams that captured eight IIHF World Women's Championship medals, five of them golden in colour. She still holds the NCAA records for most consecutive games with a point and for most points in a hockey career. Her move into the broadcasting world has put her back in the spotlight as she was part of the initial season of play in the CHWL before moving into the broadcast booth to call games on national television. In short, Jennifer is still making an impact on hockey.

Jennifer isn't the only person being inducted on October 7, 2017, though. She is included in a group of players that features Murray Bannerman, Jim Benzelock, Laurie Boschman, Pat Falloon, Lew Morrison, and Ross Parke. a few of those name should jump out at you.
  • Bannerman was a long-time Chicago Blackhawk netminder where he backed up Tony Esposito before supplanting Esposito in 1982 as the Blackhakws starting goalie. He played in two NHL All-Star Games, and currently ranks fifth on the Blackhawks' all-time goalie list with 116 wins. He was named the MJHL's top goaltender in 1973.
  • Benzelock was the fifth-overall selection in 1968 by the Minnesota North Stars, but he never suited up for an NHL game in his career. Instead, Benzelock went to the WHA where he played 166 games for the Alberta Oilers, Chicago Cougars, and Quebec Nordiques. He won the Manitoba Senior Hockey League's Pattison Cup and Western Canada Senior A Hockey's Patton Cup in 1968 as a member of the St. Boniface Mohawks.
  • Boschman spent eight seasons in Winnipeg. In 1983-84 and '84-85, he led the Jets in penalty minutes before earning a team-high and career-high 241 PIMs in 1985-86, but the Jets only advanced in the tough Smythe Division once in his eight years. However, Boschman was a star with the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings where he was part of the dynamic 1978-79 team that ripped through the league. Boschman finished the season with 66 goals, 83 assists, and 215 PIMs in just 65 games before his team fell to the Peterborough Petes at the 1979 Memorial Cup in overtime. Boschman was named to the Memorial Cup All-Star Team after scoring three goals and four assists in five games.
  • Falloon made history as he was selected second-overall in 1991 to become San Jose's first-ever selection in an NHL Entry Draft. After four seasons in San Jose, he bounced around the league before landing in Davos, Switzerland. After one season there, he returned home to play for the Foxwarren Falcons in the North Central Hockey League where he helped the team to six-straight championships from 2001-2006. He was a standout in junior hockey with Spokane, winning the Memorial Cup Tournament MVP in 1991.
  • Morrison was a star with the Flin Flon Bombers of the WCJHL where was a linemate of Bobby Clarke. Selected eighth-overall in 1968 by the Philadelphia Flyers, he was largely seen as a defensive forward who was one of the best penalty-killers in the WCJHL. Described as a tireless worker and great skater, Morrison is still held in high regard in the Flyers organization.
  • Parke's list of accomplishments don't include any NHL time, but he was on the Red Wings' negotiation list at one point. However, Parke made his name in amateur hockey. He won the Abbott Cup in the MJHL with the Winnipeg Monarchs before falling to the Barrie Flyers in the Memorial Cup Final in 1951. He led the NCAA's Michigan State Spartans in scoring for three consecutive seasons from 1954-55 until 1957-58. He helped the Winnipeg Maroons to the Patton Championship in both 1961 and 1963, and won the Allan Cup in 1964 while leading the series in scoring.
Along with these seven players, former Winnipeg Jets owner Michael Gobuty, current Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz, River East Royal Knights President/GM/head coach Barry Bonni, and Manitoba Hockey Foundation president Gary Cribbs will be inducted as builders. The 1951-52 Dauphin Kings and the 1960-64 Assiniboine Residential School teams will be enshrined in the team category. Former CJOB program and news director Vic Grant, Rob Martell, Barney Holden and the 1920 Selkirk Fishermen will also be honoured.

While our province suffers from an inferiority complex at times, it's clear we're producing incredible hockey people. We should be proud of this Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2017 as they represent all corners of the province and the people who live there. While the NHL is always a dream for a young hockey player, it's clear from the resum├ęs held by these men, women, and teams that not every hero has to play in the NHL.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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