There was a time not-so-long ago when hockey truly wasn’t for everyone.

In big cities like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, the lack of access to ice skating rinks and lack of funds to pay for hundreds of dollars worth of equipment and team fees sent working-class urban kids to the streets to play the game they loved.

And play they did. With wheels on their feet, they competed on their neighborhood streets, on playground basketball courts, and in organized roller hockey leagues. New York has tons of urban sports legends, from basketball players who lit it up Harlem’s Rucker Park to the brothers Mullen – Joe and Brian – roller hockey-playing kids from Hell’s Kitchen who made it big in the National Hockey League.

The New York Times has a touching story about Craig Allen, who endured the slings and arrows of racism to become a 1970s roller hockey legend in the city. The Times piece by Corey Kilgannon is worth a read.