Thursday night’s U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Washington had a Minnesota flavor.
Krissy Wendell, one of the most decorated players in Minnesota history, was inducted into the Hall, while Jack Blatherwick, who worked closely with Herb Brooks on the 1980 Miracle on Ice U.S. Olympic hockey team, received the Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
The Minnesotans were part of a ceremony that also included the induction of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, former Boston College and New Jersey Devils star Brian Gionta, Washington, D.C., hockey organizer Neal Henderson, and former Vermont and Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas in the hall’s Class of 2019.
Wendell, a Brooklyn Park native, led the Gophers to two NCAA championships and was the 2005 Patty Kazmaier Award winner as college hockey’s best women’s player. A three-time All-America selection and two-time WCHA Player of the Year, Wendell had 106 goals and 131 assists in 101 games with the Gophers.
In international play, Wendell, 38, played for Team USA in two Winter Olympics, earning a silver medal in 2002 and serving as captain and capturing bronze in 2006. She led the United States to its first world championships gold medal in 2005 as tournament MVP.
“I just played because I love the game,’’ Wendell told the Star Tribune in September. “… I could have never dreamed then the opportunities this sport would provide – the places I’ve been able to see, the wonderful people I get to meet and play with, or even that the Olympics would be a possibility. It’s been fun.’’
Former teammate and fellow hall of famer Natalie Darwitz had high praise for Wendell.
“Krissy is by far the best hockey player and natural goal-scorer I’ve ever witnessed. And that’s not male or female … that’s hockey player,’’ Darwitz told USA Hockey.
Blatherwick, 77, a sports physiologist who is considered one of hockey’s most innovative thinkers, helped Brooks train the gold medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympic team, which upset the mighty Soviet Union in Lake Placid, N.Y. He also worked with three NHL teams and five other U.S. Olympic teams, including the gold medal-winning 2018 women’s squad.
Blatherwick worked as head coach at Breck for 11 years and later at Wayzata, Hopkins and Minnehaha Academy, along with collegiate stops at Minnesota and Hamline. He retired in 2012 after eight seasons as an assistant at Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
“Working with the average player who’s trying to get somewhere – to college, Olympic teams or whatever – has been the highlight of my life,’’ Blatherwick said in September.