The past, present and future of black athletes in ice hockey, that's the subject of an award-winning documentary being shown at the Roxbury International Film Festival. It's called, "Soul on Ice." (@soulonicemovie) Damon Kwame Mason (@kwamster007) is the director of the film, and he joined  Adam Reilly (@reillyadam) to discuss the history and impact black hockey players have had on the game.

Mason grew up in Toronto, Ontario. In Canada, he says that it is a hockey world. Mason jokes, “ I always tell people when you’re born-in Canada- the first thing they do is give you a stick.” He loved the game, but felt a disconnection not seeing black hockey players while growing up. Later, Mason became a radio announcer and wanted to go into filmmaking. He still had a passion for hockey, but there weren’t many black players in the league. “In doing some research, I found a long-standing history,” Mason said, “and so I thought, if this is something that I don’t know, how many people don’t know?”

Adam mentioned that the film goes back and forth between the past, present, and future of hockey by following a minor league hockey player who is looking to be drafted into the NHL. Adam asked Mason about the history of the Maritime Colored Hockey League. Mason shared that between the 1895-1930, the blacks that settled in Nova Scotia (a generation after the slaves who arrived through the underground railroad), wanted to participate in the same activities as everyone else in the community which was hockey. Because of racial segregation, they decided to start their own hockey league. “The different regions, they started up their own teams. They went to the churches and got the young men together and started a hockey league.” This hockey league was the first organized sports league for blacks in all of North America, preceding the well-known negro leagues of American baseball.

Mason added that the black hockey league was also innovative toward the contribution of the sport itself. The black hockey players not only invented the slapshot, but they also invented the type of play that goalies use today. Mason said, “back then, for a very long time, the goalies stood up. If you watch old film you’d see them standing up. In Maritime, they would allow their goalies to flop on the ice, which is now considered the butterfly style of goaltending. Everyone does it now.”

In response to some historians thinking the old photos of black athletes were a vaudeville act, Mason mentioned “sometimes it’s hard because you’re going to have to rewrite some of that history.” He added, “all these big hockey historians that have talked about hockey from the beginning of time never included never included the contributions of black athletes. So when someone says, ‘Oh I’m sorry, but what about this?’ They have to deflect that.”

The film also highlights the contribution of Herb Carnegie. He was the first person to create a hockey school in North America, but he never played in the NFL. Many people believe it was due to racism. He should have been the first black player in the NFL. In the film, Carnegie was emotional in sharing his account of his professional hockey career.

For more on the film, visit