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Sport Newfoundland and Labrador Induct New Members in Provincial Hall of Fame

March 23, 2018

ST. JOHN’S—Sport Newfoundland and Labrador is pleased to announce four new members into the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame. Selected by the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame Board of Governors, these honorable inductees will be celebrated at the Stars and Legends Awards Gala taking place on April 21st, 2018.

The 2018 inductees are:
• Laura Breen in the “Athlete” category (Soccer)
• Benedict Dunne in the “Athlete/Builder” category (Track & Field, Soccer)
• John McGrath in the “Builder” category (Soccer)
• John Slaney in the “Athlete” category (Hockey)

Biographies for each of the inductees are attached.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame is designed to recognize, honour and pay tribute to individuals on playing ability, sportsmanship and character and who have achieved extra-ordinary distinction in any sport. Furthermore, it encourages the development of all aspects of sport by permanently recording the achievements and history of such individuals.

“It’s wonderful to to welcome a new group of athletes into our provincial sports Hall of Fame,” said Ed Murphy, Chair, Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame. “The Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame is meant to acknowledge those individuals who have made positive contributions to our sporting community, while helping to promote amateur sport in our province. These four inductees certainly represent all that we are looking for in the selection process.”

Sport Newfoundland and Labrador is a volunteer organization committed to the promotion and advancement of amateur sport throughout the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Hall of Fame Inductees – Biographies

Laura Breen

Throughout her career, Laura Breen has demonstrated she is one of the premier soccer players in our province. As a university athlete, she was selected in the first draft of Team All Star selections on multiple occasions for the Atlantic Conference at the National Collegiate level. Named female player of the decade 2000-2009 by the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association, her skill in multiple positions stood out far above the rest. Twice Breen was selected to the Canadian Intercollegiate team, which represented Canada at the World University Games in Thailand (2007) and Serbia (2009). A player for our province at national championships, Breen was scouted 4 times receiving invitations to attend National Team training camps for the 2011 Canadian World Cup team, Canadian Women’s U17 World cup camp in 2007, and the Canadian National U-15 Girls training camp in 2000 and 2001. Breen has played with the national Senior Women’s Jubilee Trophy championship as a member of Holy Cross/Kirby team where they finished in first place going on to win the provincial championships from 2007-2010 and in 2013. Throughout her time playing in the Jubilee league, she was named Top scorer, top defender, and MVP multiple times. Breen played for the Jubilee’s All Star team from 2004-2010 and in 2013. She was also a skilled player for Memorial playing in the Atlantic University women’s soccer league from 2005-2009. Breen was recognized for her accomplishments throughout her university career named AUS rookie of the year in 2005, a top scorer in 2006, named to the AUS first team all star from 2006-2009, and Memorial University female MVP from 2005-2009. Her record of accomplishments and achievements had her named Female Athlete of the Year twice for both Memorial University and Sport Newfoundland and Labrador. Memorial has further recognized Laura with an Athletic Honor Society Award and she has recently been inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Associations Hall of Fame.

Ben Dunne

For close to fifty years Ben Dunne has been a prominent member of the sporting community in Newfoundland with success as an athlete and an influencer for track and field, soccer, hockey, softball and cross-country skiing. Throughout his life long commitment to sport, Ben was one to roll up his sleeves and dig into the seemingly unimportant tasks, which bring success to the participants and longevity to sport. Looking at his involvement in running, you can see his passion not only to perform but also to promote and see the sport flourish over his years of involvement. A long time runner, Dunne competed in multiple marathons, and road races winning many. He went on to officiate at multiple events such as the Canada summer games, and attending orienteering training camps for national track and field in Ontario and New Brunswick. He was also a member of the coaching staff for the World track and field championships in 1998, and was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Track and Field Association’s Hall of fame in 2012. This same passion was evident when Ben decided to get involved in soccer. Not only did he certify himself to coach at the Canada Games level, he also took on the task of promoting and building the game for young women. This commitment to growth and development of women’s soccer first began at the club level in Mt. Pearl, eventually leading to greater involvement at the regional and provincial levels. Dunne has coached multiple teams including the 2002 and 2005 teams at the National Jubilee trophy soccer championships as well as being the head coach for the 1993 Newfoundland and Labrador soccer team at the Canada summer games. He helped women’s soccer grow with his year round involvement organizing a senior women’s league in the metro area and through all his efforts, programs for women have grown in leaps and bounds since the nineties. Many young girls became part of national team programs and earned university scholarships in large part to Dunne for starting and keeping programs running. Ben Dunne received a certificate of Recognition by the Canadian Federation of Provincial School Athletic Associations for dedicated service and was presented with a certificate of merit from the Government of Canada for his contribution to sport. He was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011 and has been an integral part of the sport scene in this province.

John McGrath

John McGrath has been involved with the sport community since the 1970’s. His dedication to sport, especially soccer, lead to much growth for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. He chaired the Newfoundland Soccer Association Discipline Committee from 1970-79 and served as president from 1979-1981. He helped to establish the Masters Soccer Division and established the first coaching and Referee development clinics in Newfoundland Soccer Association history. Looking to enhance participation and sport development, McGrath guided and encouraged provincial youth soccer committees to allow sponsoring/hosting of soccer tournaments in all districts of the province in a given year. His strategic and long term planning resulted in a five-year calendar of hosting tournaments. This calendar was unanimously endorsed by the NSA membership and it paved the way for future involvement of all districts in hosting soccer on a rotation basis. His continued dedications to soccer lead him to create the Newfoundland Soccer Hall of Fame, which still exists today. Always looking to highlight and grow the sport of Soccer, he was responsible for the winning bid to host the Canadian Under-18 Male Soccer Championship in 1981. This competition was hosted in Burin and was extremely successful bringing exposure to the Burin Peninsula and enhancing the peninsula’s ability to host competitions of such caliber outside the St. John’s area. John was excellent at selling the province as a qualified site to host high end quality competitions to the Canadian Soccer Association alongside Gus Etchegary and Ben Lake. He would use his skills to look after the technical and logistical aspects of hosting competitions including high caliber events such as the World Cup qualifiers at King George V soccer field in 1985 or the FIFA Under-18 World championship regional play down in 1987 with the help of Gus Etchegary and Ben Lake. These events brought exposure to the development of soccer in this province and gave residents the opportunity to witness a level of competition they would never normally have the opportunity to see. As his term as President of the NSA came to an end, he created a fee structure that would end his presidency with a surplus of funds. Understanding the importance of quality coaching, this was to be used for retaining professional coaching in order to enhance the technical development of the sport. In 1994 he was elected as a member of the Commonwealth Games of Canada Association holding the responsibility of drafting contracts with athletes, coaches, and officials who attended various Commonwealth Games Competitions. His sport career continued as McGrath would move onto the SportNL Board of Directors in 1987 where he held positions until 1995. Along with Angela King, they established the Frank Graham Provincial Volunteer of the Year Award with the Edward Phelan-Graham family. He was responsible for creating a Sport Jury System which was a vehicle that assisted the member provincial Sport Organizations with a mechanism to mediate disputes within their own organization. His skill in this area had him called up by the Department of Sport and Recreation to mediate conflicts and issues dealt with eligibility issues related to the Canada Games. John McGrath has had his hand in many aspects of Soccer and Sport organizations throughout the years. His dedication has lead to many milestones in this province and recognition pieces highlighting our provinces accomplishments.

John Slaney

Defensemen John Slaney of St. John’s enjoyed an exceptional hockey career that included outstanding junior performances, record setting American Hockey League seasons and a rewarding National Hockey League career. While playing for the Cornwall Royals of the Ontario Hockey League for just over three seasons between 1988 and 1992, he accumulated 94 goals, 168 assists for 262 points and was named Canadian Hockey League Defenseman of the Year and the Ontario Hockey League Most Outstanding Defenseman for the 1989-90 season. The highlight of his junior career came as a member of Canada’s National team when he scored the dramatic game-winning goal against Russia to secure the 1991 World Junior hockey title. Slaney was a first-round draft pick by the Washington Capitals in 1990 and went on to play in 268 NHL games with Washington, Colorado, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Nashville and the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring 24 goals with 70 assists for 94 points. In his American Hockey League Debut in 1992 with the Baltimore Skipjacks, Slaney picked up a goal and an assist. He went on to play in 693 American Hockey League games with Baltimore, Portland, Cornwall, Wilkes-Barrie, and Philadelphia scoring 166 goals with 353 assists for 519 career AHL Points, which were all career records for an AHL Defenseman at time of his last game. Slaney was voted the AHL top defensemen for the 2000-2001 and 2001-2003 seasons, winning the Eddie Shore trophy twice which is presented to the AHL’s best defenseman. He owns AHL records for points by a rookie with 20 goals and 46 assists for 66 points with the Baltimore Skipjacks in 1992-1993, as well as the most career goals by a defenseman at 166, and most goals in one season with 30 in 1999-2000. Slaney was the first defensemen in AHL history to record 500 career points. He was named all-star five times and was team captain of the AHL All-Star Classic held in St. John’s in 2002. Slaney, who finished his playing career in Europe, returned to the AHL as an assistant coach with the Portland Pirates in 2011. He is a member of the American Hockey League’s Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador Hall of Fame in 2017.

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