After growing up playing girls hockey in Massachusetts, Cindy Curley knew she wanted to keep playing the game she loved in college.
“Back then most of the schools in the Northeast had women's programs and I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” said Curley, who became the second woman inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Detroit on Monday.
Curley played at Providence College from 1981-85, won two Eastern College Athletic Conference championships and finished her career as the school’s third-leading scorer all-time with 225 points (110-115-225).
“Providence was such a great place to go to school and to play hockey,” said Curley. “The education was great. And it’s such a sports school, everyone plays something there. Sometimes a school is just the right fit and Providence was certainly that school for me.”
Curley went on to star for Team USA in the 1990s, collecting three silver medals at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships and a silver medal at the 1995 IIHF Women’s Pacific Rim Championship. She still holds the single-tournament scoring record with 11 goals and 23 points in five games at the 1990 IIHF World Championship.
Curley credits her time in college for making her a better player. She fondly remembers Lou Lamoriello, then the men’s hockey coach at Providence, pushing the women’s team every day in practice.
“He was very demanding but he just wanted us to get better,” said Curley. “He made us work on our weaknesses and we had all the same opportunities as the men. He treated us the same and we didn’t miss out on anything. He was ahead of his time that way.”
Bill Guerin’s hockey resume includes two Stanley Cup titles, an Olympic Silver Medal and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey Championship. But his two years at Boston College still rank right up there.
“It was such a great experience, I loved it,” said Guerin, who was part of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013. “Boston College is second to none – the education, the hockey – it was fantastic. The hockey career decision was to leave school after two years (to sign a pro contract with the New Jersey Devils), but I could have stayed and been very happy.”
Guerin cites playing in the Frozen Four with the Eagles in 1990 as a highlight of his college playing career, but it was his time on campus that he remembers most.
“I got to grow up a lot and get an education,” said Guerin. “Because you can’t play forever and you need a plan for after hockey is done. I would make that same decision all over again.”
As Pittsburgh’s player development coach, Guerin relishes watching the Penguins prospects at college rinks around the country.
“Walking into the building and hearing the bands, seeing the student section and how much fun these kids are having, it’s such a great atmosphere,” said Guerin. “And that is what I still love about it.”
With 924 victories at four different schools over 36 seasons, Ron Mason ranks as one of the most successful college coaches of all time. After starting the program at Lake Superior State College in 1966, Mason coached six seasons at Bowling Green State University and was instrumental in creating the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. He coached 23 seasons at Michigan State, won the national title with the Spartans in 1986 and coached 35 All-Americans and more than 50 future NHL players.
“We were able to help emerging programs get going, like Ferris State, Western Michigan and Miami,” said Mason. “And not only did we start to develop some pretty good teams, those schools also had Hobey Baker winners, multiple national championships and kids going on to the NHL.”
After playing junior hockey in Canada, Mason lettered three seasons at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., went to two Frozen Fours and led the Saints in scoring twice.
“I had so many good friends that were there, that’s why I went there,” said Mason, who was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Dec. 2. “I loved it there and we had great teams.”
Mason played in the 1961 NCAA National Championship game against Denver, the first final ever televised.
“That was the first time I had ever seen myself skate,” laughed Mason.
During his career Mason relished recruiting top student athletes and having a hand in their development.
“Sometimes it was the kids, and sometimes it was the parents that wanted their kid to play college hockey and get an education,” said Mason. “And they found out that they weren’t taking a step back, they were taking a step forward.”
Doug Weight grew up on the east side of Detroit playing for his father, who instilled in the younger Weight the value of hard work and determination. So when it came time to pick a college, both of the Weights looked north to Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
“I was recruited by other programs in the state, but I felt really good about Lake State,” said Weight, a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013. “My dad liked the fact that with (coaches) Frank Anzalone and Jeff Jackson, it was going to be a hard-nosed program focused on school, hockey, weight training and getting better.”
After 19 seasons in the NHL, a Stanley Cup title, an Olympic silver medal and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey championship, Weight still smiles at the thought of going to school in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
“It was a great two years of my life,” said Weight, who left the ‘Soo’ after two years to sign a pro contract with the New York Rangers. “It was a big part of my development on and off the ice. We had great upper classmen. Everyone knows college is fun and it was a blast. But I learned how to prepare for practice and for games from the older guys. It was tough to leave.
“There are three guys here tonight (at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony) from those Laker teams and I heard from six or seven other guys. And I got a great email from coach Jackson congratulating me. We are still a tight-knit group.”