Ice hockey-James and Granato first women welcomed into Hall

By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Angela James and American Cammi Granato became the first women enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.

"I didn't really understand how big this is but now I'm seeing the magnitude of it and understanding we are the first to go in and thinking what it means for women's hockey," Granato told reporters after receiving her Hall of Fame ring. "It's a huge step, it really is.

"It's monumental for the game because this prestigious group is including us, believing in us, supporting us and that says more than anything."

A skilled forward, Granato was invited to try out for the NHL's New York Islanders but turned down the offer to focus on her dream of playing at the Olympics.

She also led the U.S. to a gold (2005) and eight silver world championship medals during a 15-year international playing career.

James never had the opportunity to display her skills on the Olympic stage when she was controversially left off the Canadian team for the 1998 Nagano Games, calling it was biggest disappointment of her career.

"I would have never of thought, ever in my lifetime, I would be in this position," said James, who has also been inducted into the Black Hockey Sports Hall of Fame and the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame. "Woman or man, being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame is a great honor, you're being welcomed into a family.

"Being one of the first females, I'm ecstatic, it's a start for the rest of the women to continue on."

Ciccarelli, the lone NHL player included in the 2010 class, played 19 seasons with Minnesota, Washington, Detroit, Tampa and Florida scoring 608 goals and 1,200 points.

But despite his scoring prowess, including five consecutive seasons of 40 plus goals, Ciccarelli never managed to get his name engraved on a Stanley Cup.

(Editing by Alison Wildey)