Katie Crowley: a career of greatness and now U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame recognition

Sep. 16—AFTER she heard Cammi Granato's name, and then her own name called, Katie King's mind went blank.

Coach Ben Smith called more names, alphabetically, for the U.S. women's hockey team for the 1998 Olympics, but they didn't register with King.

"I was just waiting for her name and my name to be called and luckily, for me, it was," said King, who now goes by Katie Crowley.

That moment was one of several highlights in Crowley's illustrious nine-year national team career, over which the left wing won three Olympic medals, five silver and one gold medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championships and recorded 278 career points (153 goals, 125 assists) in 223 games.

Crowley, 48, who grew up in Salem, will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Dec. 6 in Boston.

Alongside her national team accolades, Crowley graduated from Brown University in 1997 as a three-time Ivy League Player of the Year and still holds the program record for career goals (123) and points (206).

As head coach of the Boston College women's team for the past 16 seasons, Crowley has led the Eagles to six NCAA Frozen Fours, three Hockey East tournament titles and six Beanpot crowns.

Her fellow Class of 2023 inductees are Brian Murphy, a Dover native who is one of two Americans to have officiated over 2,000 NHL regular-season games, former Manchester Monarchs and Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown, former NHL general manager Brian Burke and former Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues forward Jamie Langenbrunner.

Crowley, a star field hockey, basketball and softball player at Salem High School, recorded four goals and four assists as Team USA went 6-0-0 and outscored its opponents, 36-8, en route to the gold medal in Nagano, Japan, at the Winter Olympics debut for women's hockey.

Tara Mounsey, a defenseman from Concord, and Tricia Dunn, a forward from Derry, were also members of Team USA, which defeated Canada for the second time in the tournament, 3-1, in the gold medal game.

Crowley said Mounsey and Dunn, her roommate in Japan, were her two closest friends on a team that bonded on and off the ice. The 1998 team, inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009, still keeps in touch today via text through a group chat, Crowley said.

"I think what was so cool was that it was the first for all of us participating in the Games," Crowley said. "Everything that we did — you walked into the opening ceremonies, no women's hockey player had done it before. To experience that all together as a group of 20 — and we really, truly all got along really well. We supported each other ... Everyone knew their role and what was expected of them and, I think, it really, truly made that group special."

University of New Hampshire women's hockey coach Hilary Witt tried out for that 1998 team when she was a sophomore at Northeastern University. Witt said she remembers getting up very early in the morning to watch Team USA's games in her dorm room.

At that time, there were few girls youth or high school hockey teams and girls primarily grew up playing on boys teams if they wanted to play hockey, Witt said.

"People don't know the work that those guys put in back then," Witt said of the 1998 Team USA players. "There were no professional options. There wasn't any money playing with your national governing body. Those guys literally had full-time jobs and tried to train for the Olympics and so to see them get to live their dream and to fight through all of that to be able to live their dream, I wish more people knew that story and knew what those guys committed to their country to do and ended up being successful getting the gold."

According to USA Hockey, there were more than 28,000 girls and women playing hockey in the U.S. in 1998. This year, according to USA Hockey, there are more than 88,000 girls and women nationwide playing the sport.

"You look at where the numbers are now with women's hockey. It's crazy and it's growing every day," said Northeastern women's hockey coach and Merrimack native Dave Flint. "I think that (1998 Olympics team) was definitely a big part of it."

Crowley also helped Team USA win the silver medal at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, and capped her Olympics career with a hat trick in Team USA's 4-0 bronze-medal game victory over Finland at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Crowley is tied for first in Team USA history with 14 career Olympic goals and her 23 Olympic points rank fourth all-time.

"On the ice trying to play against her, she was so strong and used her body so well," said Witt, who played one college season against Crowley and with her on the national team in 2001. "She had power and could skate and (it was) just really hard to get the puck away from her. ... Playing against her in college was really challenging. She was on a whole other level."

Crowley helped Team USA make history again in 2005, when she was part of its first team to win the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships. She was also on Team USA's IIHF silver-medal teams in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004.

"Canada had won too many in a row," Crowley said of the 2005 world championship. "It was time for us to win one."

After retiring in 2006, Crowley became an assistant coach at Boston College and was elevated to head coach in 2007.

The Eagles reached their second overall and first Frozen Four under Crowley in 2011, which started a streak of three straight trips. Boston College has made 11 NCAA tournament appearances under Crowley.

Witt said Crowley's Boston College teams are always good at using the entire sheet of the ice, aggressive on the forecheck and have skilled players who are confident with the puck in the offensive zone. Flint said some of Northeastern's toughest games over his 16 years leading the Huskies have been against the Eagles.

"BC always has a good team and she always has her team ready," Flint said. "Every year, we look forward to the games against BC because we know we're going to get a tough game. Those are always exciting during the season for us."

Crowley credited her playing and coaching success to her friends, family and teammates and what she learned from her coaches.

Crowley played softball at Salem High for Harold Sachs, the winningest softball coach in New Hampshire high school history, hockey at Brown for Margaret "Digit" Murphy, who went 318-243-57 over her 22-year tenure leading the Bears, and played most of her national team career for Smith, who led Team USA at the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Olympics.

Courtney Kennedy, Crowley's Team USA teammate at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics and 2005 IIHF Women's World Championships, has been Crowley's top assistant coach at BC since 2007.

"To be able to coach a team with her has been, I think, fun and also, they (the players) get to see that dynamic of two teammates who have known each other for a long time and I think that helps us," Crowley said. "I've tried to take little bits and pieces from the coaches that I've had in the past and use them when I think it's necessary and try to help our team be as good as we can be and, hopefully, eventually we'll win that national championship."

Boston College went 20-15-1 overall and 16-11-0 in Hockey East play last season. The Eagles were picked to finish sixth in the 10-team league this year in the Hockey East preseason coaches' poll.

"I still have fun going to work every day," Crowley said. "I love being on the ice."