skip navigation

US Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2003

John Cunniff
Dick Dougherty
Mark Howe
Pat LaFontaine
1980 US Olympic Team

2003 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum Enshrinee

As a player and coach, John Cunniff made many outstanding contributions to the game of hockey in the United States.  Cunniff was a two-time All-American Forward at Boston College in 1965 and 1966.  In addition, he was a two-time All-East Team selection in 1964 and 1965, as well as a three-time All-New England Team pick in 1964, 1965 and 1966.  Cunniff was also named MVP of the Beanpot Tournament in both 1964 and 1965.  In international competition, Cunniff was a member of the 1967 U.S. Men’s National Team and the 1968 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team, which competed in Grenoble, France.

Cunniff’s involvement with professional hockey included coaching positions with Boston Bruins, Harford Whalers, and 13 seasons with the New Jersey Devils-where, in 1990 and 1991, he guided the team to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Later, as coach of the Albany River Rats, Cunniff led his team to four consecutive AHL Calder Cup Playoffs appearances and two conference finals in 1997 and 1998.

Cunniff’s extensive experience with USA Hockey includes serving as associate coach during the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway; assistant coach for the 1998 U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey Team in Nagano, Japan; and assistant coach for the 2002 U.S. Olympic Men’s Team in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He also served as an assistant coach on four U.S. National teams in 1982, 1991, 1992, as well as at the 1993 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Men’s World Championships.  Additionally, he was an assistant on two U.S. National Junior Teams in 1992 and 1993, and was an assistant for the U.S. team that captured the World Cup of Hockey Championships in 1996. 

Among his many coaching honors and accolades, Cunniff was inducted into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame in 1197; in 1998 he was given the Walter Yaciuk Award for his contributions to USA Hockey’s coaching education program; and in 2002 he received the USA Hockey Distinguished Achievement Award. Unfortunately, John Cunniff passed away on May 9, 2002. 

2003 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Richard Dougherty learned how to skate in the nation’s ice box, International Falls, where he began his hockey career as a member of International Falls High School’s first ever varsity hockey team in 1949.  In 1950, Dougherty, a standout defenseman for the Broncos, led his team to their first state high school hockey tournament, where he was also named to the All-Tournament Team as well.

From there, Dougherty went on to play three seasons for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers under legendary coach John Mariucci.  There, as a forward, Dougherty would emerge as one of college hockey’s top players. In 1954, Dougherty’s Gophers made it all the way to the NCAA Finals where they lost an overtime heartbreaker to R.P.I. Dougherty, who played alongside John Mayasich, Ken Yackel and Gene Campbell, was named to the American Hockey Coaches Association All-American Team that same year. At the time of his graduation, Dougherty would rank 10th on the Gophers’ all-time scoring list with 187 points, and fifth with 109 goals.  Dougherty helped Minnesota compile consecutive 23-win seasons in 1953 and 1954, and led the team with 42 goals during the 1954 campaign as well.

In International competition, Dougherty also had a lot of success.  He was a member of the silver medal-winning 1956 U.S. Olympic Team that competed in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy.  He also played for the 1955 U.S. Men’s National Team that placed fourth in Dusseldorf and Dortmund, Germany at the IIHF World Championships.  In addition, Dougherty played for the legendary Warroad Lakers in 1955, which won the United States Senior National Championship in Great Falls, Montana.

Considered one of the top five best players in the United States during the era of the 1950s, Dougherty completed his career as a member of the Green Bay Bobcats of the semi-pro United States Hockey League, where he played seven seasons from 1959-66.

          Mark Howe
2003 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

A Detroit, Michigan native, Howe was considered one of the finest young players in the game, when at age 16, he was a key member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic Men’s silver medal-winning hockey team at Sapporo, Japan.

Howe exploded onto the pro hockey scene in 1973-74 with 38 goals and 41 assists.  He received the Lou Kaplan Award as WHA Rookie of the Year and was a key member of the Houston Aeros championship team in his first year. After playing with the Aeros, Howe went to the New England Whalers in 1978, where he delivered his best offensive season scoring 42 goals and adding 65 assists for 107 points.  In 1979, the Whalers became known as the Hartford Whalers in the NHL and that season Howe was moved to defense where he would star in that position for many years.  Howe played for the Hartford Whalers from 1979-82, where he holds the Whalers’ record of points in 21 straight games.  

In his 10 seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, from 1982-1992, Howe became the team’s all-time leader among defensemen in goals (138), assists (342) and points (480).  He holds the record for the second-highest scoring defenseman in professional hockey, with 1,246 points in 929 NHL games (197-545-742) and 426 WHA games (208-296-504).  He was a three-time runner up for the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 1983, 1986, and 1987, which is presented annually to the NHL’s best defensemen.  In 1986, he was awarded the Emery Edge for the best plus/minus in the league.  A three-time First-Team All Star in 1983, 1986, and 1987, Howe also played in four NHL All-Star Games in 1983, 1986, 1987 and 1988.  Howe played in three Stanley Cup Finals in 1985, 1987, and 1995 and as a member of the WHA’s Houston Aeros, he was instrumental in helping the team win two Avco Cups in 1974 and 1975.  

At the end of his hockey career, Howe signed with the Detroit Red Wings in 1992 and retired from the game in 1995.  In 2001, Howe was inducted into the Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame.

2003 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Pat LaFontaine grew up in Waterford, MI, loving the game of hockey.  There, he played one season of junior hockey for Verdun in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and was honored as the Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year in 1983.

That next year, LaFontaine embarked on what would prove to be a very successful 15-year National Hockey League career by signing with the New York Islanders.  LaFontaine would go on to play eight seasons with the Islanders (1983-91), followed by six seasons with the Buffalo Sabres (1991-97), where he captained the team from 1992-97.  His best year came in 1993, when he scored a career best 148 points.  LaFontaine then finished his illustrious career with the New York Rangers in 1998.

Remarkably, LaFontaine scored at least 40 goals in six consecutive seasons in the NHL.  Reaching the 1,000 point plateau in his final NHL season, LaFontaine was sixth all-time among Americans in points with 1,013 and third in goals with 468.  In addition, he played in five NHL All-Star Games as well.

LaFontaine also had an outstanding international career, which began as a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team that competed in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.  LaFontaine, who led that team in scoring with 10 points in six games, was also a key member of the U.S. contingent in the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cup tournaments.  Additionally, LaFontaine captained the 1989 U.S. National Tam and helped lead Team USA to the title at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, scoring four points in five games.  Then, at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, LaFontaine tallied one goal and one assist in four games played.

Among LaFontaine’s many awards and honors, he was named as the Dodge/NHL Performer of the Year in 1990; was awarded the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 1995 for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey; received the USA Hockey Distinguished Achievement Award in 1993; and was given the Patriot Award by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in 2000 in recognition for his contribution to military morale throughout his career. 

1980 Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team
2003 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Entering the Olympic Games at Lake Placid, New York, the Americans fielded a strong team comprised of young college players and an innovative coach named Herb Brooks, but the competition would be fierce and the Soviet Red Army Team was the powerhouse to beat.

Facing Sweden in the opening game, the U.S. Team scored with 27 seconds left in the third period to earn a 2-2 tie. That goal acted as a catalyst for the U.S. Team, which then upset Czechoslovakia 7.3.

After that, the Americans won three consecutive games over Norway, Romania and West Germany. The showdown was now set as the Americans and Soviets met in the semifinals. Fighting back to tie the Soviets in the third period, the historic game-winning goal by Mike Eruzione clinched the 4-3 victory for the U.S. Team and all of America celebrated the Miracle On Ice.

The gold medal was won two days later when the U.S. Team scored three goals in the third period to defeat Finland 4-2. This unbelievable gold medal victory for the United States can be attributed to a total team effort that combined the hard work, determination and resources from all those involved including coaches, players, trainers, medical staff, the team management and USA Hockey.