NewsBlack History Month

Movie aims to inspire new generation of young Black hockey players

Posted at 6:21 PM, Feb 19, 2024

DETROIT (WXYZ) — For 45 years, the smooth voice of Gerald McBride has graced the airwaves of Detroit radio — for the last 26 years on 92.3 FM.

“One thing about my childhood, my mother played a lot of music in the house all the time and I had a brother who was a musician, so there were always bands playing in our basement,” said McBride, a radio producer and filmmaker.

McBride took that love for music to the radio. You hear him on weekends doing "Old School House Party" and now, he's responsible for a new nationally syndicated show called "Battle of the Old School."

“Every weekend, we do Prince versus Michael Jackson or Aretha versus Chaka Khan,” McBride said.

You hear McBride on radio but behind the mic, he has produced concert commercials for big-name performers for decades.

Now, he's venturing into filmmaking. His latest project will soon hit the big screen: "Black Ice." It tells the story of hockey in Detroit. He was inspired to write the story 15 years ago when he took his buddy to a Michigan hockey game.

“It was sold out, 10,000 people there and I was the only Black guy in the arena,” McBride said.

"Black Ice" is fiction but tells the real story about the struggle of Black hockey players — all shot at the Jack Adams Memorial Ice Arena in Detroit and includes real Detroit hockey players in the film.

McBride is the director and the producer.

FULL INTERVIEW: Gerald McBride on his new movie "Black Ice"

Jovonn Crittendon believes this movie will open eyes about his beloved sport that he's been playing from age 7 to now 16, and he believes it will dispel myths.

“Black people don't play hockey. I didn't believe that at first. I didn't believe Black people could actually hop on the skates, and I thought we were just roller skaters. But I proved myself wrong,” said Crittendon, a Detroit hockey player in the "Black Ice" movie.

Crittendon's mom believes as more African American kids learn about the sport, more become engaged.

“We're starting to see that when we go out and do different events that more African American children are getting more engaged,” Shakita Crittendon, Jovonn's mom, said.

“You rarely see Black faces. As we went to more of the games with Detroit Ice Dreams over at Little Caesars (Arena), we began to see more Black faces trickle in. I believe there's more of an awareness,” Shakita Crittendon said.

“Hockey is a very expensive sport, especially when you do travel hockey. But Jack Adams and Detroit Ice Dreams, they made it affordable, especially being a single mom,” Shakita Crittendon said.

Arthur Cartwright has a starring role in "Black Ice" as a hockey player with dreams of the National Hockey League, but a run-in with the law forces him to do community service coaching Detroit kids.

Full interview: Arthur Cartwright on role in "Black Ice" movie

“It's a big story about redemption. My character had a rough life just trying to redeem himself by teaching these kids something about this sport.. a sport you don’t see a lot of us playing,” Cartwright said.

Beating the odds, overcoming adversity and racism are all themes touched on in the movie and for these kids turned actors ,it's their real life.

Eighty-eight-year-old Willie O'Ree, whose photos sit high in the arena, was the first Black NHL hockey player. He paved the way for them yet today, racism still exists.

WXYZ’s Carolyn Clifford asked, “When you say racism, what would that be?”

“People shouting out 'the word’, things like that,” Jovonn Crittendon said.

Another theme in the movie is "rhythm.” It's about Detroiter's love for music, roller skating and using that to excel on the ice.

“Black people have this natural rhythm... if could adapt this to playing hockey,” said McBride.

McBride, who is funding the movie himself, has a message for anyone who has doubts about their future.

“Don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your dream,” McBride said.