Art Dorrington, the first black ice hockey player to sign a professional contract, passed away on Friday at age 87.Dorrington was a high-scoring forward in the old Eastern Hockey League, Eastern Amateur Hockey League and International Hockey League. He played for the Atlantic City Sea Gulls, Johnstown Jets, Washington Lions and Philadelphia Ramblers.
He tallied 163 goals and 157 assists in 345 EHL, EAHL and IHL games. His scoring prowess caught the attention of the New York Rangers. The team signed Dorrington to a professional contract in 1950, but he never appeared in a National Hockey League game.
The NHL wouldn’t see its first black player until forward Willie O’Ree broke in with the Boston Bruins in 1958.
Dorrington was born in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada, but made Atlantic City, New Jersey, his home after his playing days were over. In 1998, he founded the Art Dorrington Ice Hockey Foundation , a non-profit program that gives the seaside city’s low-income youth a chance to learn life skills through the prism of hockey.
His mantra to the kids was “On the Ice – Off the Streets.”
“What he did for the community is second to none,” Stefan Rivard, a retired player from the old Atlantic City Board Walk Bullies of the ECHL team told The Press of Atlantic City. “Art’s thing was always to perform in the classroom and then sports were after that.”Dorrington loved Atlantic City, and the city loved him back. In 2015, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian proclaimed March 15 as Art Dorrington Day. In 2012, city officials named the Boardwalk Hall’s ice rink after him.
“He was a true champion,” his daughter, Judah Dorrington, told The Atlantic City newspaper. “He had a major impact on this city.”
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