Heaney will join her long time Canadian teammate Angela James and U.S. forward Cammi Granato, both of whom were enshrined in 2010.
Why it took so long to include another female player is a controversial mystery made all the more maddening by Heaney's obvious credentials.
“As a young girl playing hockey, never in my wildest dreams would I ever think I’d be going in the Hall. It shows you where the women’s game as come and how much further it can go.”
Heaney won gold with Canada at the first seven women’s world hockey championships held starting in 1990. The offensive defenceman, often compared to Scott Niedermayer or even Bobby Orr, was named the tournament’s top defenceman in both 1992 and 1994.
She scored a highlight reel goal for Canada in the final of the inaugural world championship in Ottawa. She split the U.S. defence, avoided the goaltender’s attempted poke check and sailed through the air after slipping the puck into the net.
“That very first world championship and scoring the winning goal is something that I always have a chance to see because they play it on TV quite a bit,” Heaney said.
She took silver when women’s hockey made its Olympic debut in 1998 and won gold four years later in Salt Lake City before retiring.
In 2008 Heaney joined James and Granato as the first female inductees in the IIHF Hall of Fame.
Not bad for a girl born in Belfast, Ireland, eh? Her family emigrated to Canada when she was a toddler and she grew up as a rink rat in the Toronto area.
“It was a male game when I played and going down to the Hall of Fame any time, you never saw in any females in there, so you didn’t think this would ever happen,” Heaney said. “I’m so glad that it has.”
Heaney had 27 goals and 66 assists in 125 career games for Canada. The 45-year-old still holds national team records for the world championship games (35) goals (8), assists (28), and points (36) by a defenceman.
Heaney has remained involved in the game as a coach at the University of Waterloo.