Dominic Granato was afforded the opportunity of a lifetime last week in Toronto.
A member of the Granato family - a name synonymous with USA Hockey - the first-year Kenai River Brown Bears forward made the trip to Canada to celebrate the induction of his aunt, Cammi Granato, into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“The whole experience was awesome,” said Dominic, the son of Tony Granato, who played 13 years in the NHL and is now an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins. “Going to the Hall is awe-inspiring for any hockey player, and being so close to one of the inductees just made it even that much more special.”
Cammi, along with Dino Ciccarelli and Angela James, was elected to the Hall in the Player Category, while Jimmy Devellano and the late Daryl “Doc” Seaman were inducted in the Builder Category.
A graduate of Providence College, Granato captained the U.S. women's hockey team to a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics. She played in every world championship for the U.S. from the inaugural event in 1990 to 2005.
With that kind of resume, it’s no wonder Cammi has had such a major influence on her nephew.
“She’s a constant reminder of the power of dreams and of never giving up,” said Dominic. “She was always told she shouldn't play hockey, that it wasn't for girls, but she never gave up and accomplished some amazing things.
“Obviously, I'm so incredibly proud of her and her athletic achievements, but she’s also an amazing person. She's a role model in every way possible.”
As for his budding hockey career, Dominic, who has three goals and two assists through 18 games, is excited to be part of a rejuvenated program in Kenai River.
“Being with the Brown Bears has been a great experience,” he said. “Alaska is an amazing state; everyone here is so nice and we have a great group of guys in the locker room.
“(Brown Bears) Coach (Oliver) David is pushing us a lot, and he's giving us the chance to push ourselves, too. We're at the rink, the gym or together somewhere else most of the day. It almost feels like a job, and I love it.”