Former collegians Gionta, Thomas, Wendell to be enshrined into U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

From left, Brian Gionta, Tim Thomas and Krissy Wendell are three players with NCAA connections to be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame (photos: USA Hockey).

Gary Bettman, Brian Gionta, Neal Henderson, Tim Thomas and Krissy Wendell will be enshrined into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame as the class of 2019.

“It’s truly a remarkable class,” said USA Hockey president Jim Smith in a statement. “Each of the five inductees have their own unique and immeasurable contribution to our great game. They’re extremely deserving of the highest hockey honor in our country and we look forward to formally enshrining them into the hall in December.”

Gionta, who was drafted in the third round (82nd overall) by the New Jersey Devils in the 1998 NHL Draft, enjoyed 16 seasons in the league, capturing the Stanley Cup as a member of the Devils in 2003. He also served as captain of both the Montreal Canadiens and his hometown team, the Buffalo Sabres, and in 2017 became just the 43rd American to skate in over 1,000 NHL games.

A four-year standout at Boston College (1997-2001), Gionta posted 595 points on 291 goals and 304 assists in 1,026 regular-season NHL games from 2001 to 2018. He finished his BC career with 232 points on 123 goals and 109 assists in 164 games.

Gionta rounded out his collegiate career with an NCAA national championship in 2001, captaining Boston College to its second national title in program history and first since 1949.

Thomas spent nine successful seasons in the NHL after being selected in the ninth round (217th overall) by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1994 NHL Draft. He played the majority of his career with the Boston Bruins, and was integral in the Bruins’ 2010-11 playoff run that culminated in a Stanley Cup.

At age 37, Thomas became just the second American and the oldest player to receive the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the 2011 playoffs. A two-time Vezina Trophy recipient, Thomas finished his NHL career with 214 wins and a .920 all-time save percentage in 426 games.

A Davison, Mich., native, Thomas played four seasons (1993-97) at Vermont, where he recorded an 81-43-15 career record with a 2.70 GAA and .914 save percentage. He helped UVM to NCAA tournament appearances in his final two seasons, including the program’s first-ever berth in the Frozen Four in 1996, a year in which he led the nation in save percentage at .924.

In addition to winning the Stanley Cup and the Vezina Trophy in both 2009 and 2011, Thomas was a four-time NHL All-Star and recipient of the William M. Jennings Trophy. Following his storybook tenure in Boston, Thomas split time between the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars before retiring from the league following the 2013-14 season.

Wendell, a Brooklyn Park, Minn., product, played at Minnesota from 2002 to 2005.

She tallied a Minnesota-record 24 game-winning goals, including the deciding tally in the 2005 WCHA championship game against Wisconsin. In the same season, Wendell became the first Minnesota player and WCHA member to win the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award after being named a finalist in both 2003 and 2004.

Throughout her time as a Gopher, the two-time NCAA national champion earned All-American honors three times and was a two-time WCHA Player of the Year.

In 101 career games over three seasons (2002-05), she registered 106 goals and 131 assists for 237 points. She is second all-time at Minnesota in career points per game at 2.35.

Wendell earned two distinguished USA Hockey honors during her nine-year stint (1998-2007) as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team program, including as the Bob Allen Women’s Player of the Year in 2001 and as the recipient of the Bob Johnson Award for international excellence in both 2000 and 2005.

The induction ceremony will be held Dec. 12 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington D.C.