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Olympic Ties Run Deep As U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Announced

By Gary R. Blockus | June 19, 2017, 1:31 p.m. (ET)

Scott Young skates deep into the Belarus zone at the Olympic Winter Games Salt Lake City 2002 at the E Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Feb. 18, 2002.


Ben Smith coached Team USA to the first Olympic women’s ice hockey gold medal in 1998, and later this summer he’ll be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame as one of five members of the Class of 2017.

The other inductees are 2010 U.S. Olympic men’s coach Ron Wilson and three-time Olympian Scott Young, as well as longtime official Kevin Collins and coach Jack Parker.

“The members of the Class of 2017 have positively impacted the game, from the grassroots to the highest levels through playing, coaching and officiating,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey.

Ben Smith, a Gloucester, Massachusetts native who rose from the coaching ranks — including serving as an assistant to Parker — coached the U.S. Olympic women’s team in three consecutive Games (1998, 2002, 2006) and owned a 37-7 record in all-time IIHF Women’s World Championship and Olympic competition.

“Obviously, the seminal moment for my coaching career, and maybe U.S. women’s hockey, was the 1998 Nagano Olympics and the tremendous performance by those 20 athletes,” Smith said. “I’m obviously excited to be going in with these four other great guys.”

Wilson, who grew up in Rhode Island, recorded 648 regular-season wins as an NHL coach, the most by any U.S.-born coach. He served as the coach for the silver medal-winning U.S. men’s team at the 2010 Olympics. A two-time NCAA All-American at Providence College, Wilson played in the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Minnesota North Stars before embarking on a successful coaching career that includes serving as head or assistant coach for Team USA nine times.

“This certainly is something I didn’t expect,” said Wilson, who was inducted last year as part of the 1996 World Cup-winning Team USA. “It’s nice to know I finally got inducted based on my own merit as a player and a coach.”

Young of Clinton, Massachusetts, is one of just 12 U.S.-born men’s players to compete in three Olympics, playing defense in 1988 before switching to forward for the 1992 and 2002 Olympics. He also played in three IIHF Men’s World Championships and helped Team USA win the 1996 World Cup. He played for seven teams during his NHL career, and currently serves as an assistant coach at Boston University.

“It’s being on cloud nine a little bit,” Young said of his selection. “I feel really honored to be inducted with this class because of the relationships I have with Jack Parker, being my coach at B.U., along with Ben Smith, who also coached me in the 1988 Olympics.”

Collins, who officiated more than 2,000 NHL games as a linesman, and whose 296 Stanley Cup playoff games are the most officiated by an American, is only the second American official, behind William “Bill” Chadwick, to be inducted based solely on his officiating career. Collins, who is from Springfield, Massachusetts, officiated in the Olympic Winter Games Nagano 1998 during a 28-year career that included 12 Stanley Cup Finals and 32 Stanley Cup Final games, second only to Chadwick.

“I was totally speechless and overwhelmingly surprised with the call,” Collins said. “I can’t believe how special this is to me and it’s truly the top, the pinnacle of my officiating career … I’m proud to be in such an elite group.”

Parker, of Somerville, Massachusetts, coached 1,484 games over 40 seasons with Boston University and helped develop both Olympic and NHL players, including Tony Amonte, Jim Craig and Mike Eruzione, as well as Mike Sullivan, the first American head coach to win consecutive Stanley Cups.

“It’s an unbelievable humbling experience for me to go in with these guys,” Parker said.

The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Eveleth, Minnesota.

Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.