History will be made July 26 when Nancy Wilson is inducted into the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Wilson becomes the first female inductee as she joins former NHLers Mark Recchi, Paul Kariya, former Vancouver Canucks coach Marc Crawford, Colin Patterson and the 1994 and 1995 Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League.
Wilson, who resides in Summerland, received the call from Bernie Pascall of the BCHHF.
“I had to sit down actually,” said Wilson. “It was quite a shock. It’s quite an honour being the first female.”
Wilson’s hockey resume includes being captain at the University of Western Ontario where she played from 1975 to 77 and later playing for Vancouver senior teams before embarking on a coaching career.
She was the bench boss of the UBC Thunderbirds women’s team from 2008 to 2011.
Wilson also coached the B.C. Breakers, Vancouver Griffins, Team BC at the Canada Winter Games and served as an assistant coach with the Team Canada women’s team at the Four Nations Cup and world championships.
Wilson said considering the people already in the BCHHF, being part of that group is amazing to her.
Wilson said she and her family are thrilled with the recognition for the work she did with B.C. Hockey and Hockey Canada.
A retired police officer of 25 years, Wilson put guiding an under-18 B.C. team to a fifth place finish at the 1999 Canada Winter Games and leading the under-22 Canadian women’s team to gold in Germany at the Air Canada Cup in 2007 as experiences that stand out, both first-time experiences for her at each respective level.
When asked what she enjoyed about coaching, the answer for Wilson, who operated the Centre Ice Female Hockey School in Summerland for 18 years, was simple.
“Working with players and watching them develop, especially with young kids,” she said.
The Blazers Memorial Cup teams were coached by Don Hay and assembled by general manager Bob Brown.
Darcy Tucker, Jarome Iginla, Shane Doan, Hnat Domenichelli, Nolan Baumgartner, Jason Strudwick and Ryan Huska were just a few of the standout players on the two-time championship teams.
Huska, who now coaches the Kelowna Rockets, said for those teams to be inducted is special.
“To now be inducted with some other great teams that have been a part of B.C. hockey history is going to be very special,” said Huska, adding that it is also humbling.
“Something our group will always be proud of.”
Huska said they were fortunate to be part of a great group that started with management and credited their success to the period of time they were together.
That helped them develop a family bond eventually leading to their championship wins.
“We weren’t expected to win the first year,” he said.
“Maybe that’s what made that year so special, we weren’t a team that was picked to win the Western Hockey League.
“We weren’t a team expected to win the Memorial Cup.
“We really came together at the right time.
“When you win when you’re not supposed to, it makes it that much sweeter.
“I think the second year we were picked to be the best team right from the start, we hosted in Kamloops that year.
“We were able to win it the right way.
“We won our Western Hockey League and we had a lot of success in the Memorial Cup.”
Kariya is a former Penticton Panther, born and raised in North Vancouver.
Named the Canadian Junior A Player of the Year, Kariya was drafted fourth overall by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, said a release by the Vancouver Canucks.
He played 15 seasons in the NHL with Anaheim, Nashville, Colorado and St. Louis.
Recchi, a Kamloops native, played 22 seasons in the NHL. He won three Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh in 1991, Carolina in 2006 and Boston in 2011.
In 1,652 NHL games played, he scored 577 goals and recorded 1,533 points.
Former Canucks coach Marc Crawford was part of the Canucks 1982 Stanley Cup final as a rookie and played six seasons in the NHL.
Behind the bench, Crawford won a Stanley Cup in 1996 with the Colorado Avalanche.
Overall, he coached 1,151 games in the NHL and is presently coaching the ZSC Lions in Switzerland.
Patterson, a retired teacher from Cranbrook, has impacted the sport as a player and coach.
He received the Gordon Juckes Award for his contribution to hockey in Canada and was also named B.C. Coach of the Year.
When it comes to this class, BCHHF executive director Bruce Judd said it promises to be a celebration of BC’s influential hockey legends.
“All are very high classes,” said Judd of previous inductees.
“The nice thing about this one is inducting someone who played locally and the first woman inductee.
“That’s a big honour for the BCHHF.”
To attend the evening at the South Okanagan Events Centre, tickets are $80. To purchase, call Dorothy at the BCHHF office, 250-492-4320 or Bruce Judd 250-488-8695.