While Geraldine Heaney will be remembered for generations as the woman who scored the golden goal at the 1990 IIHF Women’s Worlds, her career is one that is filled with so many other exciting moments. As she becomes the third woman to gain entry into the Hockey Hall of Fame, what she has accomplished in the game is unmatched.
Despite her historic accomplishments with the Canadian national women’s team, which includes a Winter Games gold medal and seven consecutive gold medals at the IIHF Women’s Worlds (the only woman to accomplish the feat), there is so much more to her career. The road towards becoming one of the greatest to play the game is just as intriguing.
Her accomplishments outside of the national women’s team weaves a remarkable tapestry that is part of a legacy that future generations will try to emulate. Complemented by her tenure with the national team, it is part of a bigger picture in which Heaney had left her mark in the game long before her appearances at the Winter Games.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of her career is the fact that she joined the Toronto Aeros at the age of 13. The only comparable player today is Madison Haller, who competes with Team Alberta of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League as a 17 year-old.
A career that spanned close to three decades with the Aeros holds just as much history and marvel as any with the Canadian national team. While the Aeros would play in the leagues that preceded the CWHL, the Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League, and the National Women’s Hockey League, Heaney was the backbone of those teams.
From 1987 to 2001, Heaney competed for the Abby Hoffman Cup, the prize awarded to the winner of the Esso National Women’s Hockey Championships. A predecessor to the Clarkson Cup, no other player (including COWHL legend Angela James) is able to boast of such a streak. While several Montreal Stars players have competed in all five Clarkson Cups, they have at least a decade before exceeding Heaney’s mark.
As a member of the Aeros, Heaney would have the opportunity to hoist the Hoffman Cup four times in her storied career (1991, 1993, 2000 and 2004). Named the Most Valuable Player at the 1992 Nationals, she would also earn Most Valuable Defender honors four times (1993, 1997, 1999 and 2001), respectively.
Of all her Cup victories, the greatest may have come in 2004. Competing with an Aeros team that featured the likes of Sami Jo Small, Cheryl Pounder and Gillian Ferrari, Heaney scored the gold-medal winning goal against the Calgary Oval X-Treme in overtime. While she did not tumble to the ice (a la Bobby Orr) like she did in 1990, that goal may stand as the greatest of her career with the Aeros.
While her number would be retired by the Aeros in 2006, Heaney did more than lay the foundation for the growth of women’s ice hockey in Ontario and Canada. She was also a builder of the game off the ice.
A unique fact is that Heaney also competed in ball hockey and inline hockey. In 1989, Heaney and Angela James (who were inducted together into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2008) helped the Toronto Dragons win the 1989 Canadian national women’s ball hockey championships.
Her stellar career would culminate with entry into the Ontario Ball Hockey Association’s Hall of Fame in 2003. She would also be recognized as one of the 25 Greatest Women to play ball hockey by the National Ball Hockey Association in December 2012.
In 2003, she was also part of the Ontario College Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame (along with earning All-Millennium Honors). With the Seneca College Scouts, she helped the squad allow just 10 goals in their OCAA championship season of 1986-87. She would finish her season with a 37 point performance in only 12 games played.
Along with Angela James and Cammi Granato (HHoF inductees in 2010), they would be the first three women inducted into the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008. Appropriately, two other All-World defenders will join Heaney among the Class of 2013; Scott Niedermayer and Chris Chelios. Like Heaney, they would participate at the ground-breaking 1998 Nagano Winter Games.
While the ice of the CWHL never had the privilege of Heaney gracing it, the As one of many tireless contributors to the game that helped lay the foundation for the modern day CWHL, Heaney is a once-in-a-lifetime talent that helped put women’s hockey on the map.