‘Soul on Ice’ documentary to make London debut for U.K.’s Black History Month

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

“Soul on Ice, Past, Present and Future,” the award-winning black hockey history documentary, is heading to London in October as part of the United Kingdom’s Black History Month celebration.

Canadian filmmaker Damon Kwame Mason’s hockey labor of love is scheduled to be screened at London’s Picturehouse Central on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 10:30 a.m., and Sunday, Oct. 22, at 9 p.m. The screenings will be followed by question and answer sessions with Mason.

As part of the Ourscreen program, advance tickets are sold for the two events. Tickets can be purchased online through the Ourscreen website linked here.

“Soul on Ice Past, Present and Future” chronicles the joy and the pain experienced by black players,  from members of the ground-breaking Colored Hockey League in the Canadian Maritimes from 1895 to 1925 to the stars skating on National Hockey League’s 31 teams.

Some familiar faces  – past and present – share their hockey stories: Philadelphia Flyers  All-Star forward Wayne Simmonds, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Trevor DaleySan Jose Sharks forward Joel WardEdmonton Oilers goaltending great Grant FuhrBuffalo Sabres/Quebec Nordiques/New York Rangers sniper Tony McKegney, and former Sabres/Toronto Maple Leafs tough guy Val James, the NHL’s first black player born in the United States.

Filmmaker Damon Kwame Mason (right) talks hockey with Detroit Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley in “Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future.”

Mason devoted nearly four years and spent about $200,000 of mostly his own money to make the film. It won a People’s Choice Award at the Edmonton International Film Festival  in October 2015.

The NHL was so impressed by “Soul on Ice’s” educational and uplifting message that it hosted the film’s U.S. premiere in Washington in January 2016 and aired it on the NHL Network in February 2016 to commemorate U.S. Black History Month.

Vancouver Canucks defensive prospect Jordan Subban, left, prepares parents Karl and Maria for their close-ups in “Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future.” Karl and Maria are also the parents of Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban and Boston Bruins goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban.

Charles Dacres, a director for the English Ice Hockey Association, and a board member for Ice Hockey UK, said Mason’s film is perfect viewing for the U.K.’s Black History Month.

“It’s about doing some myth-breaking. You look at other sports where black athletes are underrepresented, and it’s a struggle to try to encourage young black people to get into them,” Dacres told me recently. “The parents will say ‘Why are you bothering the kids.’ And the kid’s mates will say ‘Hockey’s not the sport for you, black guys don’t skate.’ It’s about showing that we have some pioneers and some very strong role models that actually give people and young children something to work toward and aspire to.”

Charles Dacres, left, a director for the English Ice Hockey Association, says showing “Soul on Ice, Past, Present and Future” in London will help shatter the myth that black people don’t participate in certain sports (Phtoto/Courtesy Charles Dacres).

The movie is also deeply personal for Dacres, who endured racial slurs in his younger days when he played with the Bradford Bulldogs.

“They just kind of said ‘Just get on with it, mate, just play the game and get on with it,'” Dacres recalled the reaction to the slurs. “Today, we don’t need to do that. We can challenge that poor negative behavior but we can do that by showing some positive role models.”

Although there are few hockey players of color in the United Kingdom, they have made their presence felt.

Hilton Ruggles was one of the most prolific scorers in British hockey history in a career that spanned from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s.

Hilton Ruggles, a Montreal-born left wing, tallied 1,096 goals, 929 assists and 2,200 penalty minutes in 946 games in the British Hockey League, British Ice Hockey Superleague, and the United Kingdom’s Elite Ice Hockey League. Ruggles was inducted into the UK Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Forward David Clarke is the popular face of the EIHL’s Nottingham Panthers.

He’s one of the United Kingdom’s most-decorated players, having won an EIHL championship, an International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship Gold Medal in Division D1B in 2016-17, and scoring more goals than any other British-born player in the EIHL in 2006-07, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14.

Clarke, a member of Great Britain’s national team, has notched 289 goals and 238 assists in 553 EIHL games.

Nottingham Panthers forward David Clarke is also a mainstay for Great Britain’s national hockey team (Photo/Dean Woolley).

And several talented black NHL players have found their way across the pond to play. Rumun Ndur, a Nigerian-born defenseman, played for the Sabres and Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets) before skating for the EIHL’s Coventry Blaze and Clarke’s Panthers in Nottingham.

Former Toronto Maple Leafs right wing John Craighead , an American, played for the Panthers from 2003 to 2005.  Anthony Stewart, a  Canadian right wing who played for the Thrashers, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes, suited up for the Panthers in 2012-13 during the NHL’s player lockout that season.

Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

J.T. Brown, Tampa Bay Lightning, take stand against Confederate monument

Tags

, , , , ,

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing J.T. Brown was appalled by the violent images he saw from Charlottesville, Va., where neo-Nazis and white supremacists recently sought to march to ostensibly protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park.

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing J.T. Brown.

“It was hard to watch,” Brown told The Tampa Bay Times.

And he was annoyed that the city where he plies his trade also has a Confederate memorial, one he hopes his recently-born daughter will never have to see as she grows older.

So Brown reached into his pockets and donated $1,500 as part of an effort to privately raise the $140,000 that county officials said would be required to remove the Confederate monument from Tampa’s downtown courthouse.  The $140,000 goal was achieved in one day.

The deadly clash in Charlottesville “could have been in Tampa, could be anywhere in the country where the statues are,” Brown told The Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith.

“I was just thinking to myself, how was I going to explain to my daughter if she was old enough, how would I explain why someone doesn’t like her? Or why is this going on in the world today?” Brown told the Times. “For me that kind of re-motivated me to make sure I’m doing everything I can to make sure the community is a better place for her and everyone.”

 

Brown’s team had his back. So did the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays. The teams responded to a call from former Buccaneers Head Coach Tony Dungy to give so the Confederate statue could be moved.

Tampa’s major league sports teams issued a joint statement last Thursday that said “Now more than ever we must stand united and committed to diversity and inclusion as we all attempt to heal from the tragedy in Charlottesville.”

Brown told Smith that donating to the cause was a no-brainer because “I don’t think Confederacy is something that should be downtown in front of the courthouse.”

“You talk about dividing a community, that’s a very big symbol right there in the middle of the city,” said Brown, a Minnesota resident who had 3 goals and 3 assists in 64 regular season games for the Lightning last season.

Brown is among a small, but growing, group of professional athletes who aren’t afraid to weigh in on politically-sensitive issues.

He criticized Columbus Blue Jackets Head Coach Mike Tortorella last September when, as coach of the U.S. team in the World Cup of Hockey tournament, said he’s bench any player who conducted a protest during the playing of the national anthem as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did last season to protest the treatment of minorities in the United States.

“Wouldn’t benching a black man for taking a stance only further prove Kap’s point of oppression? But hey,” Brown wrote in a tweet that went viral.

Brown and the Lightning weren’t the only ones in the hockey world to respond to the events in Charlottesville. The Detroit Red Wings, dismayed and disgusted that some white nationalists were using the team’s iconic and trademarked winged wheel logo on shields, posters, and other items, threatened legal action.

“The Detroit Red Wings vehemently disagree with and are not associated in any way with the event taking place today in Charlottesville, Va.,” the team said in a statement “The Red Wings believe that hockey is for everyone, and we celebrate the great diversity of our fan base and our nation. We are exploring every possible legal action as it pertains to the misuse of our logo in this disturbing demonstration.”

The NHL expressed its displeasure, saying in a statement that  “We are obviously outraged by the irresponsible and improper use of our intellectual property as seen this weekend in Charlottesville, Va.”

“This specific use is directly contrary to the value of inclusiveness that our league prioritizes and champions,” the statement added. “We will take immediate and all necessary steps to insure the use is discontinued as promptly as possible and will vigorously pursue other remedies as appropriate.”

Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey.

It’s been an endless hockey summer for NHL prospects Yamamoto and Robertson

Tags

, , , , ,

Kailer Yamamoto and Jason Robertson have barely had time to take their skates off.

It’s been an endless hockey summer for the two high-scoring major junior forwards and other players chosen in the 2017 National Hockey League Draft in June.

Yamamoto, a right wing for the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League, headed to Alberta, Canada, for the Edmonton Oilers development camp days after the team selected him in the first round with the 22nd overall pick in the draft.

A long hockey season for Edmonton Oilers 2017 first-round draft pick Kailer Yamamoto included playing in a prospects game last September (Photo/Len Redkoles/USA Hockey).

The 18-year-old Spokane native stayed in Oil Country afterwards for additional training on and off the ice on his own time.

“No days off,” Yamamoto told me recently.

Ditto for Roberston,  a left wing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs.  The Michigan resident shipped off to Texas for the Dallas Stars’ development camp after the team took him in the draft’s second round with the 39th overall pick.

“It’s been a pretty busy summer,” he said.

And it’s about to get busier beginning Friday, and both players couldn’t be happier. They will be among 42 American players invited to participate in the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.

The showcase, which runs July 28-Aug. 5, is an audition for roster spots for Team USA for the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Buffalo, New York, from Dec. 26, 2017 to Jan. 5 2018.

This edition of the World Juniors will have an exciting wrinkle – an outdoor game between the U.S. and Canada on Dec. 29 at 71,608-seat New Era Stadium, home of the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.

“It would mean so much to me” to make the U.S. squad, Yamamoto told me. “Any time you can put on the crest of your country, it means the world.”

Yamamoto has represented the United States four times, playing in Under-17 tournaments in 2014-15, the Under-18 World Junior Championship in 2015-16, and the Ivan Hlinka Under-18 Memorial Cup tournament in 2015-16.

Kingston Frontenacs forward Jason Robertson, a 2017 Dallas Stars second-round draft pick, hopes to play for the U.S. at 2018 IIHF World Juniors (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

Robertson, 18, has never played for the U.S. in an international tournament. He’s hoping that he does well enough at the showcase in Plymouth to punch his ticket to Buffalo.

“That would be super-exciting,” he told me. “It’s a great tournament. It would be a huge honor to play for the U.S.A., I hope I do. It’s up to me to perform the best I can in camp.”

That’s the mantra Robertson and Yamamoto followed during their development camps earlier this month.

After getting a long look at his game at camp, the Stars’ coaching staff acknowledged that Robertson is the skilled goal-scorer they thought he was when they drafted him, the player said.

Of course, his team-leading 42 goals and 39 assists in 68 OHL regular season games and 5 goals and 13 assists in 11 playoff games were pretty good clues before the Stars made the pick.

But the 6-foot-2, 194-pound Robertson did leave Texas with a message from the Stars: Get stronger.

Forward Jason Robertson will be wearing another prospects jersey as he participates in USA Hockey’s 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase (Photo/Len Redkoles/USA Hockey).

“The Number One thing I can improve on is my strength overall,” said Robertson, whose mother was born in the Philippines. “They even expressed that the skating is not a really big issue. They believe that developing more as a man off the ice and in the gym – and putting that time off ice into my strength – will really help my career.”

The Oilers also would like to see the 5-foot-8, 140-pound Yamamoto add some more muscle to his frame.

Yamamoto’s height and weight haven’t hurt in the WHL, where he was sixth in the league and tops on the Chiefs in scoring last season with 42 goals and 57 assists in 65 games.

But if he’s going to someday survive the rigors of an 82-game NHL season and the physical abuse from bigger defenders, it’s going to require a bit more meat on the bones.

“Get bigger, stronger, definitely put on the extra pounds,” said Yamamoto, whose grandfather lived in a U.S. Japanese internment camp during World War II. “They (Oilers) said ‘Keep working, we’re really looking forward to seeing you up in camp. Make sure you’re prepared and ready to go.'”

“Ready to go” means in September, just a few weeks after the World Junior showcase. Yamamoto will head back to Western Canada to report to Oilers training camp. Robertson will go to Traverse City, Michigan, for the 2017 NHL Prospect Tournament.

That event will feature up-and-coming young players from the Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues.

“Most people would be tired and need rest,” Robertson said of his hectic summer of hockey. “But I love it. I love having something to do, especially if it’s related to hockey.”

Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey.

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

Trevor Daley enjoys a low-key day with the Stanley Cup the second time around

Tags

, , , , ,

Trevor Daley didn’t want to go para-sailing, mountain-climbing or club hopping with the Stanley Cup.

Trevor Daley wanted low-key family time with the Stanley Cup the second time around.

Instead of going buck-wild with the Cup, as some players who win it do on their designated day with Lord Stanley, the former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman arranged a decidedly buck-mild 24 hours with the championship trophy.

“Not too crazy this year with it, try to stay a little bit more low-key than last year,” said Daley, who dashed around to show the Cup off to as many friends, family and well-wishers as possible in his hometown Toronto area after the Penguins won it in the 2015-16 season. “I was, like, ‘Man, I shared it with everybody else, I never got a chance to sit down and just stare at it’ and be, like, wow this is what you accomplished.’ My family, my kids never got a chance to sit down and hang out with it.”

Back-to-back Stanley Cup victories allowed Daley the opportunity to rectify that situation.

“My son’s birthday party just passed, but we told him that part of his birthday party  would be hanging out with the Cup with a couple of his buddies in Toronto,” the veteran defenseman told me.

Trevor Daley and his family spend some quality time with the Stanley Cup (Photo/Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame).

Daley still managed to make time for a couple of  public stops with the Cup Wednesday to show appreciation to the local folks who appreciate him. The kids at Toronto Professional Hockey School, a camp Daley attended as a minor hockey player, got a glimpse of the trophy many of the camp’s current attendees hope to some day hoist.

The Whitchurch- Stouville Fire and Emergency Services also got a visit from Daley and the Cup.

Unlike other major league sports, each player on a Stanley Cup-winning team gets to have the trophy for a day to do whatever. Phil Pritchard, the Hockey Hall of Fame’s white-gloved Keeper of the Cup, accompanies it on a summer-long journey.

The well-polished silver Cup and the gloved-one will travel thousands of miles through seven countries – the United States, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Switzerland – in 100 days for players, coaches, and key staff from 2016-17 Penguins to savor for a day.

The team’s 2015-16 Cup win has a special place in Daley’s heart. He was the first player Penguins captain Sidney Crosby handed the Cup to after the team defeated the San Jose Sharks, even though Daley missed the Stanley Cup Final because of a broken ankle.

Crosby knew that it was a dream of Daley’s ailing mother, Trudy, to see her son hoist the Cup. Trudy Daley passed away a week later at age 51.

“Last year was obviously tough – the timing of the injury,” he told me. “But it did allow me to spend some more time with my mom. If I was playing, I wouldn’t been allowed to spend that much time with her. Looking back, having won the Cup, it was kind of a blessing that I got to spend some time with her last year.”

Daley, 33, said this year’s Cup is a little more special because he was able to play in the Final.

“Having gone through it twice now, back-to-back, I definitely felt more a part of it this year,” he told me. “Last year was very unfortunate, getting hurt and missing it. I remember after last year,  I always thought about getting back to this point, and I was fortunate to get back to it so soon. I always thought about playing in the Final to see what it was like on that stage.”

Daley will perform on a different stage in the 2017-18 season. A free agent, he signed a three-year, $9.53 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings in early July. He moves to a new team, a new town and will play in a brand new arena.

“I’m excited for the new challenge and new opportunity,” he told me. “I had never been through the process of free agency before and didn’t know what to expect. When Detroit came calling, I was pretty excited about – just the history of the franchise. They were one of the first teams to come to me and show interest in me.”

Daley stressed that he’s joining a team that’s retooling, not rebuilding. The Red Wings finished the 2016-17 season with a 33-36-13 record and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 25 years.

Red Wings management and fans don’t expect that to happen again. Neither does Daley.  He believes the Wings are “a team that wants to win, has a little chip on its shoulder, and is ready to make some noise next year.”

“I want to come in and be a guy who makes an impact right away, helps out in multiple areas” he told me. “I’m a guy that can add a little bit of offense and help push the pace a little bit – that’s what the league is about. I want to be able to bring all the right things that takes to help the team win each night and do it consistently.”

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound defenseman tallied 5 goals and 14 assists in 56 regular season games last season.  He had a goal and 4 assists in 21 playoff games.

The 14-season vet has 78 goals and 200 assists in 894 career regular season games with the Penguins, Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks and 6 goals and 12 assists in 71 career playoff contests.

Daley is one of only seven black players to have their names inscribed on the Stanley Cup. The others are goaltender Grant Fuhr, Edmonton Oilers, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990; goalie Eldon “Pokey” Reddick, Oilers, 1990; goalie Ray Emery, Blackhawks, 2013; defenseman Johnny Oduya, Blackhawks, 2013, 2015; right wing Jamal Mayers, Blackhawks, 2013; defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, Blackhawks, 2010.

Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey.

 

 

 

 

 

N.Y. Islanders are ready for Freddy, name Brathwaite as new goalie coach

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Brooklyn is ready for Freddy.

Fred Brathwaite is the New York Islanders’ new goalie coach (Photo/ Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images)

The New York Islanders Monday named retired National Hockey League goaltender Fred Brathwaite as the team’s new goalie coach.

“He’s ready for this next step and we look forward to him working with our organization’s goalies,” Islanders Head Coach Doug Weight said.

Brathwaite, 44, was goalie coach for Hockey Canada’s Under-18 team for the last three seasons. Before that, he coached goalies for Canada’s Under-20 program and for Adler Mannheim in the German Professional League during the 2013-14 season.

His former Hockey Canada students include NHL draftees Carter Hart, a 2016 Philadelphia Flyers second-round draft pick, Zach Fucale, a 2013 Montreal Canadiens third-round selection, and Eric Comrie, taken in the second-round in 2013 by the Winnipeg Jets.

“Fred’s experiences at just about every level of hockey make him a tremendous addition to our hockey club,” Weight said. “Not only has he has a solid NHL career, but he’s also worked with some of the top net-minders coming out of Hockey Canada.”

Brathwaite spent nine seasons in the NHL, occupying the net for the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames and Columbus Blue Jackets. He posted an NHL career record of 81 wins, 99 losses and 37 ties with a 2.73 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in 254 regular seasons games. He had 15 shutouts.

The well-traveled goalie also played for the Syracuse Crunch and Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, Ak Bars Kazan and Avangard Omsk of the Russian Superleague (now the Kontenental Hockey League) and Adler Mannheim of  Germany’s DEL. Brathwaite won Goaltender of the Year in the RSL in 2005-06 and Player of the Year in 2008-09 in the DEL with Adler.

He appeared in only one Stanley Cup Playoffs game, for the Blues in 2001-02, and was on the ice for only a minute. But Brathwaite did earn championship hardware during his North American playing days, winning a Memorial Cup with the Ontario Hockey League’s  Oshawa Generals in 1990 with a bruising young teammate named Eric Lindros.

Getting the Islanders job fulfills Brathwaite’s goal of returning to the big leagues as a coach.

“I would love to be an NHL goalie coach,” he told the Color of Hockey in June 2015 “And having this opportunity with Hockey Canada is helping me prepare for that. And it’s really not that bad paying dues when you end up getting the best kids in the country to work with.”

Brathwaite becomes the third goalie coach of color working for an NHL team. Sudarshan Maharaj runs the goalies for the Anaheim Ducks and Frantz Jean coaches for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Brathwaite replaces former NHL goalie Mike Dunham as the Isles’ netminder boss. The Brooklyn-based team ranked 23rd among the NHL’s 30 teams with a 2.90 goals-against average last season under Dunham.

Goalies Thomas Greiss, Jaroslav Halak, and Jean-Francois Berube surrendered 231 of the 238 goals that opposing teams scored in 2016-17.

Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook or Twitter @ColorOfHockey.

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Kariya’s Hall of Fame call sparks pride in Asian community

Tags

, , ,

Hockey is finally giving the National Hockey League’s first star player of Asian descent his due, and Ken Noma couldn’t be happier.

High-scoring forward Paul Kariya is finally Hall of Fame-bound.

The Hockey Hall of Fame’s decision to enshrine former Mighty Ducks of Anaheim forward Paul Kariya,  a Vancouver native whose father was born in a World War II Japanese internment camp, is historic, said Noma, the executive director of National Association of Japanese Canadians.

“We are equally proud that Paul is the first inductee of Asian heritage and the first Japanese Canadian,” Noma said in a statement released by the association. “Paul’s hockey style was reminiscent of the Asahi Baseball team of the 1930s who played a courteous but a tactical style of game dubbed ‘brain baseball.’  Sport writers have described Paul as a skilled, fast skating player who brought a cerebral dimension to the game.  He had an innate hockey sense that seemed to attract pucks.”

Paul Tetsuhiko Kariya, 42,  got the call from the Hall on Monday. He’ll be formally enshrined November 13 along with Ducks linemate and close friend Teemu Selanne;  former NHL forwards forwards Dave Andreychuk and Mark Recchi; women’s hockey star Danielle Goyette; former University of Alberta Head Coach Clare Drake and Boston Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs.

Forward Paul Kariya, back in the days when the Anaheim Ducks were called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (Photo/Courtesy of Hockey Hall of Fame).

Kariya, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound wing played with Anaheim, the Colorado Avalanche, the St. Blues Louis and the Nashville Predators in a 15-season NHL career that was cut tragically short by concussions.

He scored 402 goals and 587 assists in 989 regular season games and 16 goals, 23 assists in 46 playoff contests. His numbers were good enough to earn seven All Star Game appearances.

He collected his share of hardware: Kariya won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1996 and 1997 for gentlemanly play and skated for Canada’s 1994 Silver Medal-winning Winter Olympics hockey squad and on the 2002 Canadian team that captured the country’s first Olympic Gold Medal in 50 years.

Kariya was a star even before the Ducks chose him with the fourth overall pick in the 1993 NHL Draft.

He led the University of Maine Black Bears to the 1993 NCAA Division I championship and won the Hobey Baker Award that year as U.S. college hockey’s best player. He tallied 25 goals and 75 assists – 100 points – in 39 games for Maine in the 1992-93 season.

But for all his accomplishments, Kariya, who played his final NHL season in 2009-10, seemed to be a forgotten man by the hockey establishment.

He was  repeatedly passed over by the Hall of Fame and somehow wasn’t ranked among the 100 Greatest NHL Players, a list commemorating the league’s centennial anniversary.

So when Kariya received the Hall call, his fans rejoiced, especially those fans in North America’s Asian community.

“There’s a great love of hockey among the Japanese Canadian community, so seeing Paul recognized in this way is a source of pride,” James Heron, executive director of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto, told me.

It wasn’t just Japanese-Canadians who were thrilled. George Chiang, whose parents moved to Canada from Taiwan, said Kariya’s inclusion in the Hall is “a great thing because he deserves it based on his achievements.”

“He had a great career,” Chiang, a 47-year-old father of an up-and-coming hockey player, told me. “It is nice that Asians now have a role model that shows them that they can be recognized for their achievements just like other players.”

Noma hopes Kariya’s Hall entry starts a trend.

“We are hopeful that the next inductee to the Hall will be Vicky Sunohara who has been eligible since 2010,” he said. “Vicky is a trailblazer in Canadian women’s hockey who won 9 gold medals and 2 silvers and has devoted her life to the sport.”

Sunohara, 47, won medals at three Winter Olympics – gold in 2006 in Torino, Italy, 2002 in Salt Lake City, and silver in Nagano, Japan, in 1998. She played on gold medal-winning Canadian teams at International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships in 1990, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007.

As head coach of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues women’s hockey team, Sunohara has compiled a 137-59-21 record since 2011.

 

 

 

 

The brothers Foo chase NHL dreams through 2017 draft, free agency

Tags

, , , , , ,

CHICAGO – Parker and Spencer Foo share more than a brotherly bond.

Chicago Blackhawks draftee Parker Foo.

Parker is a scoring machine who tallied 34 goals and 32 assists in 60 games last season for the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Big brother Spencer is also a sniper – NCAA Division I hockey’s fourth-leading scorer in 2016-17 with 26 goals and 36 assists in 38 games as a junior for Union College.

Both are coveted by National Hockey League teams. The Chicago Blackhawks chose Parker Foo, an 18-year-old center, in the fifth round with the 144th pick in the 2017 NHL Draft at Chicago’s United Center.

Meanwhile, Spencer, a 23-year-old right wing, has committed to playing for the Calgary Flames, ending a bidding war among NHL teams from his hometown Edmonton Oilers to the Philadelphia Flyers for his college free agent services. Spencer’s signing will be formally announced on Saturday.

As for Parker, he was elated by being tapped by the Blackhawks. He didn’t attend the draft, not wanting to get his expectations too high. He did visit the Windy City a few weeks ago to attend a pre-draft combine.

“It’s incredible (to be selected by the Blackhawks),” he told The Calgary Herald. “I was there a couple of weeks ago. It’s a top-notch facility. Everything is incredible there — mind-boggling really. Obviously, the Blackhawks are an unreal team — all the superstars, and the coach is unbelievable.”

Parker is coming off an incredible 2016-17 season. He was the Bandits’ second-leading goal-scorer and fifth on the team in overall scoring – the combination of goals and assists. He was AJHL’s fourth-leading goal scorer during the regular season.

Foo was second on the Bandits and fourth in the AJHL in playoff scoring with 10 goals and 10 assists in 13 games. In addition, he tallied 4 goals and 5 assists in five games to help the Bandits win the Western Canada Cup.

Parker won’t be playing for Chicago any time soon. He’s committed to play NCAA Division I hockey next season. Where? Union College, just like his high-scoring brother did.

Parker was one of five players of Asian heritage picked by NHL teams in the weekend draft.

The others were:

Nick Suzuki, forward, Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League, by the Vegas Golden Knights, first round, 13th overall pick; Kailer Yamamoto, forward, Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League, by the Oilers, first round, 22nd overall pick; Jason Robertson, forward, Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, by the Dallas Stars, second round, 43rd overall pick; Tyler Inamoto, defense, USA Hockey National Development Team, fifth round, 133rd pick overall.

Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey.

 

 

Tyler Inamoto follows Samurai code on path to NHL after 2017 draft

Tags

, , , , ,

CHICAGO – Tyler Inamoto talks about playing hockey the right way.

Florida Panthers draftee Tyler Inamoto (Photo/Len Redkoles).

He also talks about playing it the Samurai way.

“Hockey is a lot of courage and passion and a lot of integrity,” said Inamoto, a defenseman for the USA Hockey National Development Team. “The principles of the Samurai code is pretty applicable to hockey.”

Inamoto hopes to employ the code playing for the Florida Panthers, which took the 6-foot-2 defenseman in the fifth round with the 133rd overall pick in the 2017 National Hockey League Draft in Chicago Saturday.

 

“I was just honored to be picked by the Florida Panthers and look forward to the opportunity to play for them some day,” said Inamoto, who grew up in the Chicago area.

However, Inamoto won’t be suiting up for the Panthers soon. He’ll start playing for the University of Wisconsin and head coach Tony Granato this fall. NHL Central Scouting ranked Inamoto as the 68th-best North American skater eligible for the draft.

Granato calls him a big, mean defenseman whom he expects to contribute to the Badgers almost immediately.

“He’ll be a physical impact player right away next year,” Granato said.

 

Inamoto joins a growing list of players of Asian heritage who were drafted in this weekend’s draft and previous NHL drafts in recent years.

Inamoto is of Japanese descent and learned a lot about his heritage – including the Samurai code – from his grandfather, Fujio Inamoto, who was placed in a British Columbia internment camp during World War II. He passed away in 2014.

“He taught me a lot about hard work and perseverance, as well, because coming out of internment camp, he had to work hard to support the family since he lost all (his) land,” the younger Inamoto told The Chicago Tribune. “…And he persevered through all that. I learned a lot from him.”

They are lessons that he doesn’t take lightly. He hopes to make history by becoming one of the few players of Japanese heritage to reach the NHL.

“It’s a big deal – there aren’t too many Japanese hockey players out there,” said Inamoto, who was born in New Jersey but raised in suburban Chicago. “So if I can be an influence to some of those guys growing up and inspire them to play hockey, I definitely take that very seriously and I’ll do my best to be a good role model to them.”

Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey.

 

 

 

 

 

RV rides in L.A. help drive Jason Robertson to 2nd-round pick in NHL Draft

Tags

, , , ,

CHICAGO – Jason Robertson’s thoughts went to the family RV when the Dallas Stars called his name and made him the 39th overall pick in the 2017 National Hockey League Draft on Saturday.

Dallas Stars draftee Jason Robertson.

Robertson was a California kid – he and his brothers began seriously playing the game because his father and grandfather were Los Angeles Kings season ticket holders.

With L.A. being L.A. with its traffic jams and with three kids with different practice times, the Robertsons used an recreational vehicle that served as a mobile command center that ferried kids to practice, served as a classroom, and a locker room on wheels.

“We had a big RV,” said Robertson, who is of Filipino heritage. “The rink in Los Angeles, with traffic, was probably an hour and a half away. My little brother and older brother play hockey so their practices would be at 3 and mine would be at 6. We’d all go at 3 o’clock and wait for my practice at 6.”

Jason Roberston grew up playing hockey in Los Angeles, Detroit, Tonroto and Kingston, Ont. He hopes Dallas is the next stop (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

The journeys in the RV, and playing  youth hockey in Detroit and Toronto, paid off with Robertson being taken in the second round by the Stars after his stellar season for the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League.

The 6-foot-2 left wing for the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs led the team in scoring in 2016-17 with 42 goals and 39 assists in 68 regular season games and tallied 5 goals and 13 assists in 11 OHL playoff games.

The NHL’s Central Scouting ranked Robertson as the 14th-best North American skater eligible for the draft. Scouts predicted that he could go anywhere from a late first-round pick to anywhere in the second or third rounds.

Hockey people gush over his scoring hands and hockey intelligence, but have concerns about his skating ability. They note that it takes too many strides for him to reach top speed.

“It’s something that people say – everyone needs to work on something,” he said. “Obviously, for me, I need to work on that. It’s an opportunity to get better.”

If Robertson reaches the NHL, he would join Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba as the latest players of Filipino descent to play in the league.

“It’s nice to see the diversity,” said Robertson, whose mother was born in the Philippines. “It was nice to see the guys picked ahead of me that have different ethnicites. It’s really special to have more guys coming in.”

And Robertson and Dumba could someday be joined by Robertson’s younger brother, Nick, a forward chosen by the OHL’s Peterborough Petes in  the 2017 OHL Priority Selection draft April. He signed a contract to play with the Petes in May.

Jason said his younger brother is a good player,  but he makes no bones about who is the better Robertson on the ice.

“I normally dressed my little brother up as a goalie and ripped five-hole on him,” the older Robertson said with a laugh.

Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey.

 

 

 

 

 

Three players of color chosen in first round of 2017 NHL Draft

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

CHICAGO – Three players of color took center stage at the 2017 National Hockey League Draft at Chicago’s United Center Friday night.

Two major junior hockey players of Asian heritage and a black French-Canadian player were chosen in the first round of the 31-team draft. And Ryan Reaves, a pugnacious veteran forward, was traded by the St. Louis Blues to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a move that capped the first day of the draft.

Thirteen proved to be a lucky number for Nick Suzuki, a forward for the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League. He was taken with the 13th pick in the draft by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

Nick Suzuki of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack hopes to be Vegas-bound after being drafted in the first round by the Golden Knights (Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images).

“It’s not every day you get picked by an expansion team,” Suzuki said after he had his named called  and donned the fledgling Golden Knights’ jersey. “I’m really happy about being picked by Vegas and I want to get there pretty  quick and see the new building.”

Suzuki was ranked as the 10th-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. The 5-foot-10 native of London, Ontario, was Owen Sound’s second-leading scorer last season with 45 goals and 51 assists in 65 games.

 

His younger brother, forward Ryan Suzuki, was the first player chosen in the 2017 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection Draft in April, plucked by the Barrie Colts.

Nick Suzuki said he has no worries about joining a new NHL team that’s bound to have more losses than wins in its first few seasons.

“I don’t think I’m nervous,” he said. “I’m more excited to see what Vegas is like. I don’t know if there’s pressure. I kind of just take it as a new team and you have to show them that you’re a good player.”

Kailer Yamamoto is looking forward to someday playing with Edmonton Oilers snipers Connor McDavid  and Leon Draisaitl  after Edmonton selected Yamamoto, a forward with the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs, with the 22nd pick of the draft.

“I’m really looking forward to going to that skill team,” Yamamoto said. “I think it’s going to definitely benefit my game.”

The 5-foot-7, 140-pound  right wing was listed as the 17th-best North American skater by Central Scouting.

Spokane Chiefs’ Kailer Yamamoto hopes to prove that size doesn’t matter after the Edmonton Oilers chose the 5-foot-7 forward in the first round of the NHL Draft (Photo/Larry Brunt/Spokane Chiefs).

A Spokane native of Japanese and Hawaiian heritage, Yamamoto led the Chiefs in scoring in 2016-17 with 42 goals and 47 assists in 65 games. His older brother, Keanu, was Spokane’s fourth-leading scorer last season with 26 goals and 43 assists in 72 games.

 

“My dad’s dad, he’s from Japan actually, he was in the internment camps,” Kailer Yamamoto said. “My dad’s half Japanese so that makes me a quarter Japanese. It’s unbelievable to be Japanese, get the Japanese heritage, and hopefully be in the NHL someday.”

Right after Yamamoto had his name called, defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph was chosen with the 23nd pick of the draft by the Arizona Coyotes.

Joseph patrolled the blue line last season for the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he had 6 goals and 33 assists in 62 games.

Joseph wasn’t a stranger to the spectacle and hype of draft day. He watched his older brother, forward Mathieu Joseph of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, get drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the fourth round in 2015.

Still, the younger Joseph – who was ranked as the 27th-best North American skater eligible for the draft by Central Scouting – admitted to having a case of the jitters on Friday.

“Obviously, I didn’t want to think about the draft,” he said. “I played cards and watched movies as the day goes on, but as I sat in the stands and watched the names go by, I was thinking whether I’d get called or not.”

He credited his older brother and his parents for helping him achieve his draft day moment.

“I was a bit of an underdog,” Joseph said. “Obviously, I had my brother and my family to push me. Everyone has been there for me to push me and make me the player I am now.”

Thanks to Evan Moore for contributing to this report.

Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey.