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U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Names 2016 Class

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

Players and staff from the United States World Cup of Hockey 1996 team, former NHL player and U.S. Olympic forward Craig Janney, and coach Bill Belisle of Mount St. Charles Academy in Rhode Island have been named inductees into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame for the 2016 class.

USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean made the announcement Monday on NHL Network.

The World Cup of Hockey 1996 team helped raise the bar for a new generation of U.S.-born hockey players after it won the country's first world hockey title since the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. There are 15 players from the team who already have been inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame as individuals. Additionally, associate coach John Cunniff and general manager Lou Lamoriello also are enshrined.

That memorable tournament featured the U.S. and Canada battling in a best-of-3 series that, at the time, featured the best hockey had to offer.

Steve Yzerman scored in overtime of Game 1 to give Canada a 4-3 victory at the just-opened CoreStates Center (now Wells Fargo Center) in Philadelphia.

The United States then won back-to-back games, each 5-2, in Montreal to stun the home fans. Game 3 featured a 35-save performance by 2008 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Mike Richter, who held the fort as the U.S. rallied from a 2-1 third-period deficit.

"The 1996 World Cup probably was the best team I've ever played on," said 2011 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Keith Tkachuk, who also played on four Olympic teams. "What an experience it was, to be down in a best-of-3 series, go up to Montreal and putting USA back on the map."

In the final game, 2008 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Brett Hull scored the tying goal for the U.S. off a tip with 3:18 left in the third period before 2009 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Tony Amonte scored the eventual winner 43 seconds later.

"It was the pinnacle of my career; being able to win that game in Montreal in Canada's backyard with all the hype surrounding that tournament," Amonte said. "It was really an unbelievable experience. I watched the Canada Cup a few years before and I dreamt about playing in it, so it was great to be on a team with all those guys."

Lamoriello will never forget the commitment the players made to each other.

"Going back to that World Cup, that was a special time because we put together a bunch of players and then brought them to Providence College and had a training camp there and were together for several weeks," Lamoriello said during his 2012 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction. "I can still remember the meeting that we had. To have success we're going to have to make a commitment, and no one is expecting anything, but if we do the things that have to be done.

"In that coaching staff at that time was [coach] Ron Wilson, Paul Holmgren and John Cunniff, their commitment was there, and there were a lot of things that transpired throughout that tournament. Brian Leetch was captain."

Janney, selected in the first round (No. 13) of the 1986 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins, had 751 points (188 goals, 563 assists) in 760 regular-season games over 12 NHL seasons. He spent five seasons with the Bruins and also played for the St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, and New York Islanders.

Born in Hartford, Conn., Janney represented the bronze medal-winning United States at the 1986 IIHF World Junior Championship. He also played for the U.S. in the 1987 and 1994 World Championships, the 1988 Calgary Olympics, and the 1991 Canada Cup.

Prior to spending two seasons at Boston College, where he had 108 points (39 goals, 69 assists) in 71 games, Janney played high school hockey at Enfield High School in Connecticut and Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's best player in 1986-87, when he had 81 points (26 goals, 55 assists) in 37 games.

Belisle, 86, is the most successful high school hockey coach in the country with 32 state titles, including a record 26 in a row, from 1978-2003, over 41 seasons. A 1948 graduate of Mount St. Charles, Belisle has coached 20 players who have been drafted by NHL teams, including goalie Brian Boucher, defenseman Keith Carney, forward Brian Lawton and Islanders general manager Garth Snow.

The date and location of the 2016 induction ceremony will be announced later this month.

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