BlackFacts Details

Black players in ice hockey

The history of black players in North American ice hockey has roots dating back to the late 19th century. The first black ice hockey star was Herb Carnegie during the Great Depression. Willie O"Ree broke the NHL’s black color barrier with the Boston Bruins.[NB 1]

The Coloured Hockey League of the Maritimes began in 1895, as an initiative of black Baptist churches in Nova Scotia.[1] The aim was to increase and retain male membership. The league consisted of teams from Halifax, Africville, Hammond"s Plains, Dartmouth, Truro, Amherst and Charlottetown, P.E.I.[1] All games were on an invitational basis with the trophy still residing in a private home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Historically, they were the first league to allow the goaltender to drop to the ice to stop the puck.[2]

Ontario was geographically large, and it was impossible in the early 20th century to organize an all-black league like in Nova Scotia. Some of the early black players in Ontario hockey history included Hipple Galloway and Fred Kelly. Galloway played as a member of the Woodstock team in the Central Ontario Hockey Association in 1899. [3] In 1916, Fred (Bud) Kelly of London played for the 118 Battalion team of the Ontario Hockey League. Apparently, Kelly was scouted by the Toronto St. Pats, but was never officially contacted. One of the first all-black teams in Ontario was the Orioles. The team was from St. Catharines and played in the Niagara District Hockey League during the 1930s.

Herb Carnegie’s hockey career began in 1938 with the Toronto Young Rangers and continued in the early 1940s with the Buffalo Ankerites, a team in a mines league that played in mining towns in northern Ontario and Quebec. While with the Ankerites, Carnegie was part of the Black Aces line.[4] The other line members consisted of his brother, Ossie Carnegie and Manny McIntyre, originally from Fredericton, New Brunswick. They were recognized as much for their talent and skill as their skin colour (Herb was at centre, Ossie was right wing, McIntyre was the left wing).