Stephen A. Smith pokes fun of black football player talking about hockey. Seriously?


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If ignorance is bliss, then ESPN talking head Stephen A. Smith must truly be in a happy place.

He once again displayed his sports knowledge on the Worldwide Leader’s “First Take” by ragging on University of Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin for talking about the Stanley Cup Playoffs and his beloved Tampa Bay Lightning on the show.

“Well, first of all, he deserves a lot of credit – he’s a black man talking hockey. Congratulations,”  Smith responded to Griffin’s hot take that the ‘Bolts will win the Cup. “Let me tell you something  -you certainly ain’t going to get me to do it. So congratulations. The versatility, my brotha. You probably got a job here once your playing career is over based on that take alone.”


I understand  that shows like “First Take” are more about entertainment than sports – remember, ESPN stands for Entertainment Sports Programming Network – and that Smith is the top carnival barker for that circus.

Smith’s hockey rant may be schtick. But it helps a demeaning stereotype stick. For the record, quite a few of us talk about hockey, and we’re quite black.

Let’s see. There’s Popeye Jones, a former National Basketball Association center and current Indiana Pacers assistant coach, talking hockey and his son, Columbus BlueJackets defenseman Seth Jones.

There’s NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley who, for the second-post season in a row, said he’s watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There’s Karl Subban, a retired Toronto-area school principal who shares knowledge about raising three sons who are playing hockey at the highest levels. You might have heard of them.

There’s John C. Brittain, a distinguished civil rights attorney who may have been the first black player to captain a high school hockey team in New England in the early 1960s.

There’s Lt. Col. Ralph Featherstone, a U.S, Marine Corps aviator who was the first African-American to captain the U.S. Naval Academy’s hockey club.

There’s Thurgood Marshall Jr., son of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Oh, and there’s a hockey-related college scholarship program that carries the late justice’s name.

There’s Damon Kwame Mason, director of the award-winning black hockey history – yes, Stephen A., we have a hockey history – “Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future.

There’s David Amber, Kevin Weekes, Anson Carter and Tarik El-Bashir, who actually talk about hockey on television for a living.

There’s Lil Johnand Snoop Dogg, rappers who’ve wrapped their arms around the Stanley Cup.

There’s Angela James, Canada’s “female Wayne Gretzky” and the first black woman to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

And then there’s me.

So if Smith doesn’t like hockey, that’s cool. But his making light of black people who do isn’t.

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A changing of the guard among Great Britain’s ice hockey players of color


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Like the ceremonial changing of the guard outside London’s Buckingham Palace, ice hockey players of color in Great Britain are experiencing a generational shift.

Nottingham Panthers forward-assistant coach David Clarke, one of Great Britain’s greatest home-grown ice hockey players, retired from the game last month at the age of 36 last month.

He represented Great Britain over 90 times in international competition during a playing career that spanned from 1996-97 to 2017-18.

“In terms of a role model within British ice hockey… it was always great to see a black player in such a high-profile position not only at the highest playing level but also representing GB,” said Ethan James, a 19-year-old goaltender from London who played for Great Britain’s Under 20 team in December. “He’s definitely been the biggest name for all kids to follow.”

Nottingham Panthers forward says goodbye to fans in his final game. He retied as one of Great Britain’s most decorated players (Photo/Nottingham Panthers).

Now it’s the next generation’s turn to lead, and they’re eager to take the reins.

Team GB forward Mason Alderson Biddulph, was the fourth-leading scorer at the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 World Championship Division II-Group A in Tallin, Estonia, earlier this month with 6 goals and 3 assists.

His nine points, tops for Great Britain, helped the team win a gold medal in the six-nation tournament and secure a promotion to IIHF Division I-Group B.

Mason Biddulph led the gold medal-winning British team in scoring and was the fourth-leading scorer among all players at the 2018 IIHF U18 world championship in April (Photo/Hendrik Soots).

Biddulph was voted best forward by the tournament’s directorate, selected best player for Great Britain by coaches, and was named bestTeam GB player in 6-3 victory over Estonia in which he had two goals.

“I had no expectations of what we were going to do at the world champs, as it was my first time there,” Biddulph said. “So when we won the gold medal in Estonia and earned promotion, it was a surreal feeling and a moment I will never forget. It was important to GB as it was the first promotion in ten years, but it was important to me as an individual because it became the highlight of my career so far.”

The 16-year-old’s performance was just part of a a stellar 2017-18 season. As captain of the Guildford Firekings U18 team, Biddulph scored 29 goals and 10 assists in nine regular season games.

Biddulph comes from a hockey family. His father, Brian Biddulph,  was a rugged defenseman who played in Great Britain from 1982-83 to 1999-00 for teams in Streatham, Slough, Peterborough and Lee Valley.

Great Britain forward Mason Biddulph, also known as Alderson, celebrates after scoring a goal against Estonia in April 2018 (Photo/Hendrik Soots).

The elder Biddulph also played junior hockey briefly in Canada for a team called the Langley Eagles in what was then known as the British Columbia Junior Hockey League.

Like his father, Mason Alderson Biddulph is looking to test his talents in North America. Next week, he’s scheduled to attend a training camp of the Smith Falls Bears, a Junior A team in the Central Canadian Hockey League.

“The ideal hockey path I want to take is the Canadian junior A to an NCAA college route because of the standard of hockey and the chance to get a good education,” the younger Biddulph said. “Of course, I’d hope to turn pro in North America with dreams of the NHL, like any kid. But I would never overlook playing in Europe’s top leagues like the KHLNLA, DEL. .. Magnus and Serie A.

Ethan James has already ventured across the pond to North America to play. He recently finished his second season with the Essa Stallions of the Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League.

He showed that size doesn’t matter when it comes to stopping the puck. The 5-foot-6 netminder compiled a 17-1 record in 24 games with the Stallions in 2017-18. He had a stingy goals-against average of 1.37 and a .949 save percentage, both CPJHL bests.

He backstopped the Stallions to the CPJHL championship with a 6-1 record playoffs record and a 2.16 goals-against average. James was a first-team CPJHL All-Star in 2016-17.

At 5-foot-6, British goalie Ethan James, playing in a CPJHL All-Star Game, is proving that size doesn’t matter in net (Photo/Mark Mauno).

“He’s got very good reflexes, he’s quick,” said Stallions Head Coach Sylvain Cloutier, a former American Hockey League and British Elite League forward who skated seven games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1998-99. “If he was 6-foot-2, who knows where he’d be? ”

Hockey teams from juniors to the pros adore big goalies.  The average size of an NHL goalie is 6-foot-2 and about 201-pounds, but several goalies exceed that.  Dallas Stars netminder Ben Bishop is 6-foot-7; Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinneis 6-foot-5; and Pittsburgh Penguins backstopper Matt Murraystands 6-foot-4.

“I honestly think height shouldn’t matter,” James said.  “If the goalie that is 5-foot-7 can stop the puck just as well as a 6-foot-plus goalie, why shouldn’t they get the chance of going professional?”

Goaltender Ethan James manned the net for Great Britain at IIHF tournaments in 2016 and 2018.

James played for Team GB at the 2018 IIHF U20 World Championship Division II-Group A in Dumfries, Great Britain, in December, appearing in two games a posting a 2.55 goals-against average.

He also played in two games at the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship Division II-Goup A, in Brasov, Romania, and posted a 5.35 goals-against average in a backup role.

James has become known on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean for something more than his penchant for making big acrobatic saves: His big hair.

He has the best Afro in hockey this side of  retired WashingtonCapitals forward Mike Marson, who sported a natural to the NHL in the 1970s.  But James’ ‘Fro is rooted more in hockey superstition than fashion.

Superstitious, British goaltender Ethan James doesn’t cut his hair during hockey season (Photo/Courtesy Ethan James).

“When I was an Under 12 (player) with Romford I played with the Under 14s and we went undefeated that season and I never cut my hair during that season,” he said. “So ever since then, during the hockey season I just let my hair grow.”

And how does James fit those fluffy ‘Fro into his goalie mask?

“I just push the hair back and put the helmet on,” he said.

Just because David Clarke hung up his jersey doesn’t mean that Team GB is short a Clarke.  Morgan Clarke-Pizzo, his son, was a forward GB’s U20 team in December.

Clarke-Pizzo, 18, attends the Ontario Hockey Academywhere he scored 5 goals and 9 assists for its U18 team in 2017-18. He had 21 goals and 21 assists in 52 games in 2016-17.

He was scoreless in five games at the IIHF tournament in Dumfries but that didn’t stop his father from beaming with pride.

“Time flies for sure! I’m extremely proud to see him living his dream and representing his country and turning into a nice young man,” David Clarke told The Nottingham Post. “He’s still got a long way to go, but it’s good to see him and the team doing well.”

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‘Hockey is for Everyone’ alum Duante’ Abercrombie begins climb up coaching ladder


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As a kid, Duante’ Abercrombie dreamed of playing for the Washington Little Capitals, a youth hockey program with a track record of developing players for junior, college and professional hockey teams.

Duante’ Abercrombie becomes head coach in a hockey program that helps develop players for collegiate, junior and pro hockey.

Almost after each practice with the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club – North America’s oldest minority-oriented youth hockey program – Abercrombie would ask his mother if he could join the Little Caps, too.

“We just didn’t have the money,” he recalled. “Coming from a family that knew absolutely nothing about hockey, it was hard to justify paying as much as it cost to play hockey when I was already doing the same thing with Fort Dupont.”

Abercrombie, 31, finally joined the Little Caps last week as the new head coach of the Washington Little Capitals 16U National Team. The appointment fulfills the Washington, D.C., native’s dreams of being affiliated with the program and pursuing a career in coaching that he hopes will lead a National Hockey League job someday.

“It’s just amazing how I’ve come from a time and place when I couldn’t even afford to try out for the team to now being the head coach of arguably the most critical age group they have in the U16’s,” he said. “It’s an opportunity that I don’t take lightly.”

Neal Henderson, founder and head coach of the 41-year-old Fort Dupont hockey program, was all smiles about Abrercrombie joining him in the head coaching fraternity.

Fort Dupont is part of the NHL’s “Hockey is For Everyone” initiative that provides support and unique programming to some 30 nonprofit profit youth hockey organizations across North America, offering kids of all backgrounds the opportunity to play the game.

Duante’ Abercrombie, right, with Neal Henderson, founder and head coach of the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, the nation’s oldest minority-oriented youth hockey program (Photo/Courtesy Duante’ Abercrombie).

“It’s an honor to have had the opportunity to work with Duante’, and teach him, and put him on his first pair of skates,” Henderson said. “It’s an honor to see him progress the way he has, play hockey the way he has, and climb the ladder the way he has, and to stick with a trade that’s very difficult to maneuver through.

The Little Caps, a member of the Atlantic Youth Hockey League, has a proven record of developing players who go on to NCAA hockey programs, American Collegiate Hockey Association club teams, and junior leagues like the USHL.

Its most notable alum is Jeff Halpern, who had a lengthy NHL career with the Washington Capitals, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Los Angeles Kings.

“It was a no brainer deciding that this was something that I had to be a part of,” Abercrombie said. “My plan is to teach my players how to use their individual skills within a team structure that not only leads to eventual team success on the score sheet, but also prepares them individually for what’s expected at the next levels.”

Hockey took Duante’ Abercrombie from Washington, D.C., to New Zealand and the U.S. minor league hockey towns. Here he’s facing off as a member of the Brewster Bulldogs of the Federal Hockey League (Photo/Courtesy Duante’ Abercrombie).

With his appointment, Abercrombie begins a journey to one of the final frontiers for people of color in hockey – the head coaching ranks.

There were no minority head coaches in the NHL in the 2017-18 season. Calgary Flames Assistant Coach Paul Jerrard was the only black NHL coach working the bench during games.

The NHL’s other minority coaches can be found on the practice ice or in the video room. Fred Brathwaite is the New York Islanders‘ goaltending coach and Sudarshan Maharaj tutors netminders for the Anaheim Ducks. Frantz Jean is the Tampa Bay Lightning’s goalie coach and Nigel Kirwan is a video coach for the ‘Bolts.

Little Capitals management considers Abercrombie “a rising star in the hockey development scene.”

“Talk to him for five minutes and you can feel his excitement and energy for this job,” said Little Capitals Hockey Director Matt Thomas. “His ability to develop players is a great asset to our organization, and particularly for our 16U team during this critical stage. I look forward to working with Duante’ to help our talented group of 16U players advance in their careers.”

A graduate of Gonzaga High School, Abercrombia had a brief professional career playing for the West Auckland Admirals in New Zealand, the Steel City Warriors of the Federal Hockey League, and the FHL’s Brewster Bulldogs.

He’s even skated for the Jamaican ice hockey Olympic team effort coached by

Graeme Townshend, the NHL’s first Jamaican-born player, and Cyril Bollers, director of player development for Canada’s Skillz Black Aces program.

He developed an appreciation for hockey training and coaching through participation in rigorous conditioning programs like BTNL and Twist in Ontario and serving as an instructor for three years in a hockey school in Maine run by Townshend.

For the last two seasons, Abercrombie served as a hockey coach for Georgetown Preparatory School.

“Having scouted and been a skills consultant at the ACHA and NCAA levels, I will spend time developing the skills and habits that junior programs and colleges look for, and my ultimate goal is to teach (players) how to play the game with a ‘Winning Attitude’ all the time,” he said.

Abercrombie said he stands on the shoulders of other black coaches who’ve mentored him – Townshend and Henderson – and credit them for his progress.

“Duante’ is one of the best instructors I had,” Townshend said. “He comes from a background where there wasn’t a lot of hockey. He’s come a long way just because of that (Fort Dupont) program there. He’s always studying the game, he’s always learning and improving his craft. All those reasons make him a good coach.”

Thompson believes that the sky’s the limit for Abercrombie now that he has his foot in the coaching door.

“He’s now definitely in that realm where he’s going to start meeting people and start working his way up the ladder,” he said.

Henderson predicts that other Fort Dupont pupils will follow in Abercrombie’s  path and become bench bosses for teams.

“Coming out of our group, for as old as it is, you’re going to find more doing it, such as Ralph Featherstone, and other men who have gone on in hockey to reach certain pinnacles in it,” Henderson said.

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Players of color play pivotal roles in 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs first round games


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The Stanley Cup Playoffs have only just begun but players of color are already having a major impact in opening-round games.

From the East Coast to the West Coast, minority players played pivotal roles for their teams in first-round contests.

Forward Evander Kane showed why the San Jose Sharks obtained him from the Buffalo Sabres shortly before the trading deadline. He scored two second period goals in his first-ever National Hockey League playoff game, helping the Sharks defeat the Anaheim Ducks 3-0.

The 26-year-old Vancouver native became the fourth player in the last 20 years to have a multiple goal game in his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut, according to the NHL.

“It was nice to finally get out in the playoff atmosphere, and it was fun to finally get my first playoff win,” Kane told reporters after the game. “It’s finally nice to contribute. That’s my job. I feel confident in my abilities. I don’t think it was my best game, but I’m never going to be mad when we get a playoff win and I get to contribute.”

Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly flashed some of the playoff magic he displayed  four seasons ago as a member of the Ducks, scoring a third-period goal that gave the Caps a 3-2 lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night.

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Not to be outdone, Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones scored a power play goal that tied the game at 3. The Blue Jackets won the game 4-3 in overtime, deflating the playoff euphoria inside Washington’s Capital One Arena.

In addition to his goal, Jones led all skaters in the game with 30:59 minutes of ice time, further building the case for his consideration for the Norris Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s best defenseman.

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Jones was tenth among NHL defensemen in scoring in the 2017-18 regular season with 16 goals and 41 assists in 78 games.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones.

“If he’s in Los Angeles, or he’s in Montreal, or in Toronto, or New York, we’re talking about this guy as a Norris Trophy candidate,” ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose told The Columbus Dispatch last month. “He does get overlooked, but not by hockey guys that see him play…Every GM in the NHL would love to have Seth Jones, and every coach would love to have him in their lineup. Those guys are very, very hard to find.”

Winnepeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is another blueliner who’s come up big early in the playoffs.

Big Buff was an offensive and physical force in the Jets 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild Friday night.

He contributed a backhand saucer pass assist from behind the Wild net on teammate Paul Stastny’s third period goal and delivered crunching back-to-back hits on Minnesota players in the second period that energized the sellout crowd inside Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Place.

Byfuglien logged a team-high 23:51 minutes of ice time Friday, helping him earn the game’s first star honor.

“Just another day at the office,” he told reporters afterward.

Wild rookie forward Jordan Greenway  is yet to score a goal in the series against the Jets.

But the former Boston University star did tally an assist Wednesday in the Wild’s 3-2 loss to Winnipeg on Wednesday and he continued to make hockey history as the first person to play in the Winter Olympics, the NCAA ice hockey tournament and the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the same year.

Greenway became the first African American to play on a U.S. Olympic hockey team when he skated at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

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Touted prospect Quinton Byfield drafted first overall by OHL’s Sudbury Wolves


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Congratulations to Quinton Byfield for being the first overall pick Saturday in the Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Selection draft.

The 15-year-old center from Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, was chosen by the Sudbury Wolves after he put up monster numbers for the York Simco Express, a minor midget AAA team, in the 2017-18 season: 48 goals and 44 assists in 34 games.

Quinton Byfield’s combination of size and scoring touch made him an easy Number One draft choice for the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

Byfield will enter the OHL sporting gaudy minor midget numbers. He averaged 2.71 points per game, third-best in the Eastern AAA Minor Midget Hockey League’s recent history.

Only forwards Steven Stamkos (2.98) of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Taylor Hall (2.88) of the New Jersey Devils had better marks in their minor midget careers.

“He is an exceptional player with a great future and his potential is amazing and our coaching staff is eager to work with him,” Rob Papineau, the Wolves’ vice president of hockey operations and general manager said of the 6-foot-4, 203-pound Byfield. “Our scouting staff has been unanimous on Quinton as the best player in the draft all season and we know that the fans and people of Greater Sudbury are going to love the opportunity to watch such a special player in a Wolves uniform.”

Byfield said he’s ready to go out and prove that the Wolves made the right choice.

“I’ll do good with the pressure,” Byfield told reporters. “It will always be making me want to step up my game, face new challenges and I think it will be great for me.”

Saturday’s draft was merely a formality for Byfield. He knew that he’d be Sudbury’s pick and addressed the media about it on Friday.

“It feels really great, especially coming to Sudbury, it’s a great organization, great staff and everything, I feel like it will be a great fit for me playing with all the great players they have here,” he told reporters Friday.

The Wolves are a major junior team in the OHL, a 20-team league where young players showcase their talents in hopes of being drafted by a National Hockey League team once they turn 18 or older.

Quinton Byfiled says he thrives under pressure. The Number One overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection Draft will get to prove that for the Sudbury Wolves (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

“We put in place a goal to be a Memorial Cup contender with our mission being to develop 15-year-old boys into professional gentlemen of character when they leave our program,” Wolves Owner and Governor Dario Zulich said in a statement. “Quinton represents a significant step forward.”

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Calgary Flames-Edmonton Oilers game showcases hockey’s diversity


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The Calgary Flames‘ 3-2 win Saturday over the Edmonton Oilers had little impact on the standings – neither National Hockey League Western Conference team is within Stanley CupPlayoffs range.

However, the game at Calgary’s Saddledome was meaningful in terms of the diversity that was on display, further showing that the face of hockey is steadily changing.

The game featured the NHL debut of Flames forward Spencer Foo, a high-scoring former star at NCAA Division I Union College. An Edmonton native, Foo played 12:45 minutes, including 1:20 minutes on the power play, and registered a shot on goal.

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Giving instructions to Foo and other Flames players was assistant coach Paul Jerrard, currently the only black NHL coach who stands the bench during games. He traded a stick for a clipboard after a minor league hockey career that spanned from 1987-88 to 1996-97. He did appear in five games for the Minnesota North Stars in 1988-89.

“There isn’t anybody of color I emulated in coaching, I just wanted to push hard and work and see where it would take me,” Jerrard told Canada’s Sportsnet in February. “It would be interesting to see what would happen if there was a black coach in the league. There might be one someday, I don’t know.”

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Trying to keep Foo and the youthful Flames at bay on the Oilers back end Saturday night were defensemen Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear and goaltender Al Montoya.

Nurse was the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft, one of two black blue-liners chosen in the first round. The other was Columbus Blue Jackets defender Seth Jones (chosen fourth overall by the Nashville Predators). Nurse has 6 goals and 19 assists in 79 games for the Oilers.

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Bear, who is from the Ochapowace First Nation in southeastern Saskatchewan, Canada, was an Edmonton 2015 fifth-round draft pick. The NHL rookie has a goal and 3 assists in 15 games with the Oilers.

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Montoya, who was traded to the Oilers by the Montreal Canadiens, became the NHL’s first Cuban-American player when the New York Rangers chose him with the sixth overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft.

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Oilers left wing Jujhar Khaira, a Canadian of South Asian heritage, logged 11:02 minutes of ice time Saturday night, including 59 seconds on the power play and 1:15 minutes killing penalties.

Khaira, an Oilers 2013 third-round pick, has 11 goals and 10 assists in 66 games for Edmonton.

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Diversity in Saturday’s game wasn’t limited to players and coaches. Shandor Alphonso, a black Canadian, was one of the two linesmen working the game.

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And, of course,  David Amber manned the broadcast studio as host of Hockey Night in Canada’s late game.

Hockey Night in Canada hosts David Amber (L) and Ron MacLean (Photo/CNW Group/Sportsnet).

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Spencer Foo makes NHL debut with Calgary Flames in the Battle of Alberta


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What better way for right wing Spencer Foo to make his National Hockey League debut with the Calgary Flames than to play in the Battle of Alberta against the rival Edmonton Oilers Saturday night.

The Flames recalled Foo from the Stockton Heat, Calgary’s American Hockey League farm team, Wednesday in time for the Edmonton native to face the team he watched growing up.

Spencer Foo is excited about being recalled to the Calgary Flames from the AHL Stockton Heat where he was third on the team in scoring (Photo/Jack Lima).

“It’s going to be a cool night for me,” Foo told reporters. “Obviously, I have a lot of family and friends coming down from Edmonton, so it’s going to be a fun one.

“I grew up watching the Battle of Alberta all the time, so it’s just going to be special to finally be able to be part of it.”

Foo, 23, signed with Calgary after being one of the summer’s most sought-after free agents. He decided to go pro after his junior year at NCAA Division I Union College, where he tallied 26 goals and 36 assists in 38 games in 2016-17.

The Flames, Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers were among the teams that sought Foo’s services with Calgary winning out in the end.

“Calgary presented itself with a great opportunity & (it’s) also a team that’s right on the verge of winning,” Foo tweeted after he committed to the Flames in June.

Spencer Foo scored 20 goals for AHL Stockton after a slow start. He’ll make his NHL debut with the Calgary Flames Saturday night (Photo/Jack Lima).

Foo didn’t make the Flames roster out of training camp. Instead, he was sent to Stockton, California, where he was third on the team before his recall with 20 goals and 17 assists in 59 regular season games.

He scored goals in bunches in the AHL after netting only one goal in his first 19 minor league games.

“I think I was just giving other players a little too much respect out there and I wasn’t fully playing my game,” he told reporters. “But once I was able to get that out of my head and just started playing really hard and being hard to play against, I think that’s kind of when it all turned around for me.”

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U.S. Olympian Jordan Greenway makes NHL debut with Minnesota Wild


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Jordan Greenway didn’t register a point Tuesday night, but the massive forward still managed to score a hat trick.

Making his National Hockey League debut with the Minnesota Wild against the Nashville Predators in Music City, Greenway skated for his third team on three different hockey levels in a six-week span.

He ended his collegiate career Saturday when Boston University lost to the University of Michigan 6-3 in the Northeast Regional final of the NCAA Frozen Four tournament.

Last month, Greenway represented the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, becoming the first African-American to play hockey for the U.S. in the Winter Games.

He donned a Wild jersey after he signed a three-year entry level contract Monday. The Wild took the 6-foot-6, 226-pound Greenway in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft with the 50th overall pick.

“It’s been a quick turnaround, for sure,” the Canton, N.Y., native told reporters. “But it’s all something I’ve wanted to do. It’s something I love doing, and I’m just excited to get everything started, excited to help the team out however I can.”

Greenway logged 10:01 minutes of ice time in Minnesota’s 2-1 overtime loss to Nashville, including 50 seconds of power play time and 12 seconds on the penalty kill. He didn’t mange a shot on goal.

He got a taste of the difference between college hockey and the NHL courtesy of a first-period hit from rugged Predators left wing Scott Hartnell.

Greenway, 21, finished his three years at BU with 28 goals and 64 assists in 112 games. He had 13 goals and 22 assists in 36 games in 2017-18.

In international competition, Greenway scored one goal in five Winter Olympics games; tallied 3 goals and 5 assists on the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 2016-17 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal; and notched a goal and 6 assists at the 2014-15 IIHF Under-18 World Junior Championship to help power the U.S. to gold in that tournament.

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Players of color compete in the other March Madness – the Frozen Four championship


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March Madness on ice is in full swing and the road to the Frozen Four features several players of color on teams vying to get to the championship game in St. Paul, Minnesota, next month.

The Ohio State University forward Dakota Joshua was the Buckeyes’ fourth-leading scorer in 2017-18, notching 15 goals and 10 assists in 33 games. A 2014 Toronto Maple Leafs fifth-round draft pick, the junior from Dearborn, Michigan,has a goal in the NCAA championship tourney.

Ohio State University forward Dakota Joshua hopes to lead the Buckeyes to an NCAA Frozen Four title (Photo/The Ohio State University Athletics).

Joshua has a chance to score more as Ohio State faces the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Thursday, April 5, at the Xel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Buckeyes senior forward Christian Lampasso was the Buckeyes’ sixth-leading goal-scorer with 10 to go along with 3 assists in 35 games in the regular season. The 23-year-old from Amherst, New York’s Twitter handle is @formerlydreadsy, nod to his Haitian heritage and the dreadlocks he used to wear under his hockey helmet.

Ohio State University forward Christian Lampasso shed his dreadlocks but hasn’t lost his scoring touch for the Buckeyes (Photo/The Ohio State University Athletics).

Defenseman Justin Wade helped secure the blue line for the  University of Notre Dame in 2017-18Wade, a 23-year-old senior from Aurora, Illinois, was fourth on the team in blocked shots last season with 42. He also led the Fighting Irish in penalty minutes with 54 in 33 games.

The Fighting Irish play Michigan on Thursday.

University of Notre Dame defenseman Justin Wade and the Fighting Irish are back in a familiar spot – the NCAA playoffs.

After failing to win gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, Jordan Greenway rejoined Boston University’s team hoping to win a Frozen Four championship trophy to go with BU’s 2017-18 Hockey East title.

But his quest ended when the Terriers lost to the University of Michigan Wolverines 6-3 in the Northeastern Final on March 24.

The 6-foot-5 junior forward from Canton, N.Y., had 12 goals and 21 assists in 34 regular season games for the Terriers. Greenway,  a 2015 Minnesota Wild second-round draft pick and the first African-American player on a U.S. Olympic hockey team, notched a goal in five games in PyeongChang.

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Greenway didn’t make it to the Xel Energy Center with the Terriers, but he made it with the Wild after he signed a three-year entry level contract with the team after BU was eliminated from the NCAA tournament.

Forward Erik Foley was Providence College’s leading scorer in the 2017-18 season with 16 goals and 19 assists in 36 regular season games.

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Foley, a 2015 Winnipeg Jets third-round draft pick, is joined on the Friars by forward Vimal Sukumaran. A sophomore from Montreal, Sukumaran  was ninth on the team with 10 goals and 8 assists in 38 regular season games in 2017-18.

The hockey season ended for Foley and Sukumaran when the Friars lost to Notre Dame 2-1 in the NCAA quarterfinals on March 24.

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His name changed but his game remained the same. Minnesota State University senior forward C.J. Suess, changed his last name from Franklin and took his mother’s maiden name to honor her.

Despite the new name on the back of his jersey,  he remained the same hard-nosed, high-scoring  player for the Mavericks.

The 23-year-old Forest Lake, Minnesota, led the team with 22 goals and 21 assists in 40 games in 2017-18. His 22 goals tied him for twelfth among NCAA Division I hockey players.

Suess, a Winnipeg Jets 2014 fifth-round draft pick, also led by example. He was the Mavericks’ team captain for last two seasons.

His season ended on March 23 when the Mavericks lost to rival University of Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 in overtime in a first-round contest.

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Larry Kwong, the NHL’s first player of color, passes away at 94


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Larry Kwong made hockey history in a minute.

In one game, one shift, one minute on the ice with the New York Rangers on March 13, 1948, Kwong became the first person of color, the first player of Asian heritage, to skate in the National Hockey League.

That game was the sum of Kwong’s NHL career, but he left a lasting legacy on the game as seen by the number of minorities in hockey – on the ice, in the owner’s suite, behind the bench, and behind the mic – today.

Larry Kwong, center, only played one minute in the National Hockey League with the New York Rangers but he helped pave the way for other players of color (Photo/Courtesy Chad Soon).

Kwong passed away on March 15 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, at the age of 94, two days after the 70th anniversary of his NHL debut.

“The man was just the biggest gentleman you’ll ever meet, so humble but so accomplished from the standpoint of hockey,” said Brad Kwong, no relation, a managing partner of the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League.

With his 60-second shift, Larry Kwong “created a shift in perception for minority people in Canada, and he had an impact in the (United) States as well,” said Chad Soon, a family friend who has campaigned for greater recognition for the high-scoring forward who was nicknamed “King Kwong” and the “China Clipper.”

“Born in Canada but not being considered Canadian, growing up in a country that had officially racist laws that prevented Chinese people from coming, that prevented Chinese-Canadians from voting, to achieve the Canadian dream coming from those humble beginnings is something,” Soon told me. “Society may not have been ready for him given that he was given only that one minute, but he opened the door and moved society forward.”

Kwong was born in Vernon, British Columbia in 1923, the 14th of 15 children. The son of a grocery store owner, he was lured to hockey by Foster Hewitt’s play-by-play accounts of games on “Hockey Night in Canada” radio broadcasts.

He begged his parents for a pair of skates and eventually got a $19 pair of oversized CCM’s.

At 5-foot-6, Kwong developed into a speedy skater and a shifty center. He joined the Trail Smoke Eaters in 1941-42 after a successful midget hockey career. During World War II, he joined the Canadian army and  mesmerized troops with his hockey skills.

His play also caught the attention of the Rangers. The team offered him a tryout in 1946. The audition earned Kwong a spot on the New York Rovers, the Rangers’ farm team in the old Eastern Hockey League.

Kwong became a scoring threat and a Rovers fan favorite, tallying 52 goals and 71 assists in 112 games.

His minor league performance, and a rash of injures on the Rangers, prompted the a promotion to the parent club. Wearing Rangers red, white and blue, Kwong faced the Montreal Canadiens on March 13, 1948.

Kwong sat through the first two periods, waiting Rangers Head Coach Frank Boucher to put him in the game. He got his chance near the end of the third period with the game tied at two.

“They got me out there and I did the best I could,” Kwong told me in 2015 for an article in “Legends,” the official program guide for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Kwong was one minute and done for the game and the NHL. He never asked the Rangers why he didn’t get a longer look.

“Oh, I was disappointed that I didn’t play more. I just let it be,” he told me in 2015. “I always thought the coach knew what he was doing. Maybe he had orders from the top brass. I don’t know.”

Larry Kwong isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but a jersey he wore when he played for the Nanaimo Clippers in 1942-43 is in the hockey shrine (Photo/Courtesy Chad Soon).

Brad Kwong, whose family knew Larry Kwong, figures that the late player never asked why because he seldom dwelled on the negative.

“He was a very positive person, very optimistic,” Brad Kwong said. “Later in life, he lost both legs to poor circulation. Even then, he’d be visiting my parents house, laughing joking and everything – a man without two legs, but always optimistic. I think that was a part of his nature, growing up the way he did, a family with 15 kids, fighting for what he had, but just being optimistic and thankful for what he had, what he was able to do.”

Larry Kwong quit the Rangers after the 1947-48 season and joined the Valleyfield Braves of the Quebec Senior Hockey League.

He notched 164 goals and 220 assists in 347 QSHL regular season games from 1948-49 to 1952-53 and was named the league’s most valuable player in 1951.

Kwong tallied another 51 goals and 61 assists in 147 games with the Braves from from 1953-54 to 1955-56 when the team was in the Quebec Hockey League.

Kwong ended his North American playing career in 1956-57, a season before forward Willie O’Ree became the NHL’s first black player when he joined the Boston Bruins.

Kwong left the game in 1960-61 after playing for the Nottingham Panthers in England and HC Ambri-Piotta in Switzerland.  He also coached in Switzerland for Ambri-Piotta and HC Lugano.

While O’Ree has been hailed as the “Jackie Robinson” of hockey, Soon and others feel that Kwong hasn’t been given sufficient due for his accomplishments in the game.

One of Kwong’s jerseys is on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame, but Brad Kwong believes that “King Kwong” should be in the hockey shrine in Toronto.

Former Mighty Ducks of Anaheim star forward Paul Karyia, a Canadian of Japanese descent, is currently the only player of Asian heritage in the Hall, inducted in November 2017.

“I look at what the Hockey Hall of Fame stands for and what it tries to honor and I think (Larry Kwong) has accomplished something that very few have,”  Brad Kwong told me.

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