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Hall passes for four: Laura Breen, Ben Dunne, John McGrath, John Slaney joining NL Sports Hall of Fame

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Inductions will take place next month in St. John's

The Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame will be grow by four next month when two athletes, an athlete/builder and a builder are inducted during Sport Newfoundland and Labrador’s Stars and Legends Awards Gala at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John’s.

Soccer star Laura Breen and retired pro hockey player John Slaney are the athletes being inducted, along with athlete/builder Ben Dunne and long-time provincial soccer and Sport NL executive John McGrath.

The four were selected for the Hall by the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame Board of Governors.

Laura Breen

Named female player of the decade 2000-2009 by the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association, Breen was a star coming up through the St. John’s minor ranks who played on provincial teams before joining the Memorial Sea-Hawks’ varsity team. With Memorial, she earned all-star status, and an Atlantic conference MVP award to go with rookie of the year honours and a scoring title.

Breen twice played for Canada in the World University Games, in Thailand in 2007 and Serbia two years later, and attended national team training camps for the 2011 Canadian World Cup team, Canadian women’s U17 World Cup in 2007, and the Canadian national U-15 girls training camp in 2000 and 2001.

In provincial Jubilee Trophy women’s play, Breen won five championships, was a regular on the season-end all-star team and was a multiple winner of the top scorer, top defender and MVP awards.

Ben Dunne

Dunne is a member of both the Newfoundland and Labrador soccer and track and field Halls of Fame.

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 was also a member of the coaching staff for the world track and field championships in 1998.

On the soccer pitch, Dunne coached multiple teams, including the 2002 and 2005 teams at the national Jubilee Trophy women’s championships, and the Newfoundland and Labrador entry in the 1993 Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, B.C.

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.

In addition to soccer and track and field, he was also involved in hockey, softball and cross-country skiing.

John McGrath

Involved in provincial sports since the 1970s, McGrath is a former president of the Newfoundland Soccer Association.

Chairing soccer’s Discipline Committee from 1970-79, McGrath served as president from 1979-1981, helping establish the masters division, the first coaching and referee development clinics in Newfoundland Soccer Association history and the Soccer Hall of Fame.

McGrath was responsible for the winning bid to host the Canadian under-18 men’s championship in 1981 in Burin, and would use his skills to oversee the technical and logistical aspects of hosting the World Cup qualifier at King George V in St. John’s in 1985 and the FIFA U18 world championship regional playdown in 1987, with the help of Gus Etchegary and Ben Lake.

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 joined the SportNL board of directors in 1987 where he held various positions until 1995. He also served a few terms as chairman of the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame Board of Governors.

John Slaney

Slaney, from St. John’s, enjoyed a pro hockey career that included 282 career NHL games with seven different teams.

Slaney also played more than 600 games in the American Hockey League, and was twice the winner of Eddie Shore Trophy as the league's top defenceman.

He had AHL records for points (66) by a rookie defenceman with Baltimore in 1992-93, most career goals (149) and the most goals in one season (30 in 1999-2000). He was the first defenceman in league history to record 500 points and, until 2011, was the league's all-time scoring leader amongst rearguards,

A four-time AHL all-star, Slaney won a Calder Cup with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 2004-05, and is a member of the AHL Hall of Fame and Hockey NL Hall of Fame.

But Slaney is best known for scoring one of Canada’s iconic goals in international play, the game-winning goal against the Soviet Union at the 1991 world junior championship in Saskatoon, Sask.

He played in the Ontario Hockey League for just over three seasons, accumulating 262 points and was named both the OHL and Canadian Hockey League defenceman of the year in 1989-90.

sports@thetelegram.com

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