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Less familiar names the real heroes among US Hockey Hall's new inductees

College hockey coach Ron Mason was elected to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Coach Ron Mason guided Michigan State to seven Frozen Fours and the 1986 national title. (Elsa/Getty Image)

By Allan Muir

You know how these things work. You see a list of Hall of Fame inductees and your eyes go right to the big names, the NHL stars whose best games are still fresh in your mind. And then you see the others and you go, "Who?"

But the beauty of a regional hall like the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame lies in its ability to embrace and honor those who have made their marks at the game's grassroots level or others that are beneath the purview of the sport's big Hall in Toronto.

And so that's why it's worth noting that, along with "greatest generation" stars Bill Guerin and Doug Weight, legendary scorers and heroes of the 1996 World Cup win, the U.S. Hall today announced it will induct Cindy Curley, Ron Mason and Peter Karmanos, Jr, as members of its 2013 Class. While their names might not pop off the page, each made contributions to the game that outweigh their more famous classmates.

As owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, Karmanos might have the most name value, but that's only a small part of his CV. He earns his spot in Eveleth, MN for his pioneering work with minor hockey in Michigan. His Compuware program has provided top-tier instruction through its Learn to Play effort, and its' highly regarded AAA select clubs have trained NHL legends including Eric Lindros, Mike Modano, Pat LaFontaine, the Hatcher brothers, and Al Iafrate.

Karmanos has also been involved in the ownership and promotion of franchises across multiple levels of the sport, including the OHL Windsor Compuware Spitfires and Plymouth Whalers, the ECHL Florida Everblades, and the NAHL Detroit Compuware Ambassadors. He had previously earned the Lester Patrick Award in 1997 for his contributions to the game in the United States.

With 924 career wins, Ron Mason was, for a time, the most successful coach in American college hockey. His teams won at least 20 games in 30 of his 33 years behind the bench at Lake Superior State, Bowling Green, and, most famously, Michigan State, where he won seven CCHA regular season titles, made 19 NCAA tournament appearances, advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four seven times, and captured the national championship in 1986. (He also won one with Lake Superior State.) He went on to serve as the school's athletic director for five years.

Mason had the ability to develop not only players, including Hobey Baker winners Kip Miller and Ryan Miller, but coaches who went on to make their place in American hockey, including Jeff Jackson, Newell Brown, George Gwozdecky, Ted Sator, Steve Cady and Tom Anastos, ensuring that his legacy of integrity and accountability lives on.

Cindy Curley might be the least familiar member of the group, but there's no arguing her place in the Hall. One of the pioneers of America's efforts on the international women's scene, she starred in the inaugural IIHF Women's World Championship in 1990. She scored 11 goals, 12 assists and 23 points in five games -- all three totals remain records for a single tournament. She also appeared at the next two championships, winning silver medals in all three events.

After her playing career ended, she went on to serve as both a coach and an official and later performed in several capacities for USA Hockey and on the US Olympic board. And while none of those offered the glamor of her on-ice heroics, she helped create opportunities for young women who were looking for a chance to follow in her footsteps.

That's the sort of legacy that all three of the lesser-known inductees share. And it's what makes them worthwhile additions to the Hall.

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