Subtitled The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895–1925, this little-known story of the first professional black ice hockey players appealed to Gooding partly because he has been a regular at the rink for the past 17 years. "When the slaves escaped the South, some of them went to Philly or New York, but some of them continued on to Canada, where the Indians befriended them," he says. "As I remember the book, the Indians saw the ex-slaves as being in the same situation they were: oppressed by the white man. So they intermarried, shared food—and played. And one of the games they played was hockey. Soon they had teams with names like the Moss Backs—for the moss on the side of a tree that shows you how to get up North to freedom. There was a league of black men playing hockey before the NHL," Gooding says. "Amazing!"
— As told to Sara Nelson
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, December 8, 2013