Jaden Lindo loves a happy ending to a movie as much as anyone.
Lindo thought he provided one as a leading man in filmmaker Damon Kwame Mason’s excellent black hockey history documentary “Soul on Ice, Past, Present and Future.”
Mason’s camera followed Lindo, then a forward for the Ontario Hockey League’s Owen Sound Attack, through the high of awaiting the 2014 National Hockey League Draft and the low of suffering a severe season-ending knee injury that jeopardized his draft prospects.
The dramatic arc in the film ends with the Pittsburgh Penguins taking the injured Lindo in the sixth round with the 173rd overall pick in the draft. Happily ever-after, right? Well, not yet.
“It didn’t work out the way I hoped with Pittsburgh, but there are different routes to getting to there (to the NHL),” Lindo told me in a recent telephone conversation from Accra, Ghana, where he and his family were vacationing. “There’s still a lot more for me to achieve and I still have a lot of potential that I still haven’t reached. I’m completely optimistic.”
But things didn’t work out with the Pens. Lindo returned to Owen Sound where the 6-foot-2, 214-pound right wing had 14 goals and 16 assists in the 2015-16 season.
He was traded to the Sarnia Sting for the 2016-17 season and tallied 21 goals and 14 assists in 58 games as a 21-year-old in his final year of OHL eligibility.
Lindo says his script to the NHL isn’t finished. He’s committed to play Canadian college hockey at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario this fall. The team, which posted a 24-14-0 record last season, is stocked with former major junior players.
Other former major junior players have taken the Canadian college route and landed in the NHL, most notably San Jose Sharks right wing Joel Ward, who skated for the University of Prince Edward Island after his Owen Sound career ended.
Like Ward, Lindo is a rugged power forward. But Lindo models his game after another Owen Sound alum, Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds. Lindo even lived in the same billet residence that Simmonds did during his major junior days.
His season for Sarnia completed – he had 2 goals and 1 assist in 4 OHL playoff games for the Sting – Lindo played two exhibition games last week for the Jamaican national hockey team effort in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His family is of Jamaican descent.
His play in the exhibition games caught the eye of Bill Riley, a Nova Scotia resident who became the NHL’s third black player when he joined the Washington Capitals in 1976.
“He has all the tools,” Riley told me. “I had a real good chat with him after the game. I said to him, ‘Look, you have everything it takes to be a pro.’ I told him it’s 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical. I said ‘if you’ve got the right mindset, don’t take no for an answer.”
Lindo appreciated the advice from Riley, who served as a Junior A hockey general manager and a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League head coach.
“He’s someone to reach out to and talk about hockey,” Lindo told me. “He knows the game, he’s been a pro, he knows what it takes. If I ever need that support, I have the ability to reach out and talk to him.”
For those who haven’t seen “Soul on Ice, Past, Present and Future,” the award-winning documentary by Damon Kwame Mason, catch it via iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vudu, Microsoft Movies & TV, or Sony PlayStation. It’s also available on Starz in the United States.
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