Kim St-Pierre was the first female goaltender — and eighth woman — to earn induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, in a June 25, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

St-Pierre breaks ground for female goalies in Hockey Hall of Fame

A young Kim St-Pierre saw magic in that plain, brown goaltending equipment.

But she lost the first game she put it on.

Parents Louise and André encouraged her to continue, even though there were no girls’ teams in Chateauguay, Que., in the 1980s.

The first female goaltender — and eighth woman — to earn induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame played with and against boys her first decade in the sport.

“Being the only girl, it was never easy,” St-Pierre said. “I had to really fight every day not to become the best, but to play amongst all the boys.

“It made me the person I am today, to never give up and always be ready every time I had a chance to step on the ice.”

Her first foray into women’s hockey with the McGill University Martlets coincided with the debut of women’s hockey at the 1998 Winter Olympics.

“My transition to the women’s game, I was about to quit hockey, but thank god for McGill University giving me a chance to play for another five years and transition to the women’s game,” St-Pierre said. “It made me have a chance to be a part of Team Canada down the road.

“It was a dream for me to be on the that team one day.”

St-Pierre earned three Olympic gold medals and five world championships with the Canadian women’s hockey team.

The 41-year-old is Canada’s all-time leader in games (83), wins (64) and shutouts (29).

St-Pierre posted a career 1.17 goals-against average and save percentage of .939 over her 13-year career with the national team.

She enters the Hall alongside NHL players Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson and builder Ken Holland in the class of 2020 announced Wednesday.

“Hopefully this will let people know about the accolades Kim has,” Canadian teammate and goaltender Sami Jo Small said.

“She’s often overlooked because she’s quiet, because she’s not really in the public eye. She just had this quiet resolve to her.

“She just went out her business winning lots of games and playing for Team Canada for a long time, which as a goaltender is not an easy feat.”

St-Pierre was Canada’s starter in world championship finals from 2001 to 2008. She was named the tournament’s top goalie in both 2001 and 2004.

Her 25-save performance in the 2002 Olympic women’s hockey final was electric.

Canada claimed gold in an emotional 3-2 win over the United States in Salt Lake City, after losing the final to the Americans in 1998.

St-Pierre was named the Canadian Women’s Hockey League top goaltender three times in her career. She twice hoisted the Clarkson Cup championship trophy with the Montreal Stars.

She grew up idolizing Montreal Canadiens goaltender Patrick Roy, as well as Manon Rheaume who appeared in a pair of NHL pre-season games with the Tampa Bay Lightning when St-Pierre was a teenager.

Angela James and Cammi Granato were the first women the Hall inducted in 2010, followed by Geraldine Heaney (2013), Angela Ruggiero (2015), Danielle Goyette (2017), Jayna Hefford (2018), Hayley Wickenheiser (2019) and now St-Pierre.

“When I first found out women would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame with Cammi Granato and Angela James, it made it so special for me to be a women’s hockey player and now to join and be the eighth women in the Hockey Hall of Fame makes it very, very special,” St-Pierre said.

“My message for all the young goalies is to never give up and to always keep it fun.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2020.

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