All-black hockey game to honour Colored Hockey League
'They would draw big crowds and it was a real big social event,' says grandson of CHL player
A hockey game featuring all black players is scheduled to be played in Halifax Sunday night to honour the players who played in an all-black league decades ago.
The Colored Hockey League (CHL) saw teams from all over the Maritimes playing mainly on lakes and outdoor rinks beginning in 1895.
On Sunday night at the Centennial Arena, players from the Halifax area will suit up as members of the Hammonds Plains Mossbacks and Charlottetown Rangers, two teams that used to play in the old CHL.
"Part of our mandate is to promote awareness of this league that existed between the years of 1895 and the 1930s," said Calvin Barton, one of the organizers of the annual game and the treasurer of the Black Ice Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame Society.
The game is one of the events being held as part of African Heritage Month.
Players scouted by NHL
Mike Mansfield says he's played in the game every year it's been held.
His grandfather, Edgar "King" Mansfield, was a star in the old league.
"They dubbed him King because he was the king of the ice," said Mansfield.
'King' Mansfield was so good some NHL teams came east to check him out when they were scouting other hockey players.
"The Detroit Red Wings were here once and after looking at some of the players they asked 'where's this king of the ice guy?'" said Mansfield. "When people pointed to my grandfather who was out there playing they went 'oh you didn't tell us that' — that this king of the ice guy was actually a black man."
There were several Nova Scotia teams in the league. They included the Halifax Eurekas, the Dartmouth Jubilees and the Truro Sheiks. There were two teams from Africville: the Seasides and the Brown Bombers.
"They would play on lakes in Halifax and in Dartmouth and there were times when parts of Halifax Harbour would even freeze over and they used that as an ice venue too," said Mansfield. "They would draw big crowds and it was a real big social event."
Proceeds from the Sunday night game will be used to support the black youth ice hockey program, a Hockey Nova Scotia program for black kids ages four to eight.