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Story of black ice hockey players coming to the big screen

PANTHER: David Clarke has forged a wonderful ice hockey career

THE EMOTIVE story of ice hockey’s black players is scheduled for the big screen next month.

The award-winning documentary, Soul on Ice, Past, Present & Future was made by Damon Kwame Mason, a Toronto native of Jamaican descent.

Making the film was a four-year labour of love for Mason, who left his job, spent almost all his money, and crisscrossed Canada and the US interviewing subjects for the groundbreaking movie that tells the story of how black players have coped with and overcome, racial obstacles to not only survive but thrive in a predominantly white sport.

The film is to be screened at London’s Picturehouse Central on October 21 at 10.30am and 22 at 9pm. The screenings will be followed by question and answer sessions with Mason Charles Dacres, a director for the English Ice Hockey Association and a board member for Ice Hockey UK, said Mason’s film is perfect viewing for Black History Month.

“It’s about doing some myth-breaking. You look at other sports where black athletes are underrepresented, and it’s a struggle to try to encourage young black people to get into them,” Dacres told

OPINIONS: Charles Dacres (left) is a director for the English Ice Hockey Association

“It’s about showing that we have some pioneers and some very strong role models that actually give people and young children something to work toward and aspire to.”

The movie is also deeply personal for Dacres, who endured racial slurs in his younger days when he played with the Bradford Bulldogs.

“They just kind of said ‘Just get on with it, mate, just play the game and get on with it,’” Dacres recalled.

“Today, we don’t need to do that. We can challenge that poor negative behaviour but we can do that by showing some positive role models.”

Although there are few hockey players of colour in the United Kingdom, they have made their presence felt. Hilton Ruggles, a Montreal-born left wing, tallied 1,096 goals, 929 assists and 2,200 penalty minutes in 946 games in the British Hockey League, British Ice Hockey Superleague and the United Kingdom’s Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL). Ruggles was inducted into the UK Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Forward David Clarke is the popular face of the EIHL’s Nottingham Panthers. He’s one of the United Kingdom’s most decorated players, having won an EIHL championship.

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