Alton White - Born May 31, 1945 in Amherst, Nova Scotia is a retired professional Canadian ice Hockey right winger and center.
White learned to skate in Nova Scotia, but did not play any organized Hockey until he was 8 years old, when his family moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, as his father was offered employment with Canadian National Railway.
White played all his minor Hockey in Winnipeg, moving up to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, where he played for the Winnipeg Rangers from 1962 to 1965. White was coached by Gordie Pennell in Winnipeg, a legendary coach in Manitoba who coached many players into pro Hockey. White was named team captain for his final year playing for the Rangers in 1964-65.
White also went to the United States to play with the St. Paul Rangers in Minnesota, joining them for the playoffs in 1964.
White then turned pro at age 20, and joined the International Hockey League / IHL, playing there from 1965 to 1969 with the Fort Wayne Komets (1965-66) and the Columbus Checkers (1966-69). During his first 4 years as a pro in the IHL, White scored 116 goals, 160 assists in 283 games.
White joined the American Hockey League / AHL Providence Reds late in the 1968-69 season, playing 7 regular season games and 9 playoff games. White became a regular with the Reds to start the 1969-70 season, playing there until 1972. White scored 48, 61, and 64 points respectively over those three seasons. In all three seasons, he scored 24 or more goals, showing that he definitely had a nose for the net. With his 64 points, White finished second in scoring on the Reds in 1971-72 - other pro teams started to take notice of the 26 year-old.
White's problem in the AHL was he was never affiliated with a NHL team. As a result he never got the big league call up that so many of his teammates did.
"It was tough for me to go up because I was owned by Providence. So, in order for me to go up I'd have had to be sold. I got a little bit down when I saw guys go up when I knew I was a better Hockey player."
"Right now," said White in an interview in 1972, "I look at the NHL rosters and see names like Guy Lapointe, Marc Tardif, Rejean Houle, Don Marcotte, Reg Leach and Ken Dryden." These are people I've played against pretty well. I'm a hustler. A good skater. I'm not really that big so I have to rely mainly on skating and hustling. Compared with the past years, I'm a lot more capable Hockey player. I feel I'm a lot better than some guys in the NHL today."
With the upstart World Hockey Association / WHA coming into existence in 1972, there were hundreds of professional Hockey jobs opening up for players with talent. The New York Raiders were one of the teams in the WHA's first year, and they quickly signed White to a deal after he starred with the Reds. However, he saw little ice time with the Raiders after they had signed a number of talented minor-leaguers, and he demanded a trade in December after playing only 13 games. With one goal and four assists to his name in his short time in New York, White got his wish in December of 1972, and was a traded to the Los Angeles Sharks.
Sharks coach Terry Slater gave White a spot on the top two lines most nights, and White responded. In 57 games after the trade from New York, White went on a tear, finishing the season with 20 goals, 17 assists, and a combined total of 42 points in the 70 games he played that season. But what was more significant were the two benchmarks he set.
White became the first black Hockey player to score 20 or more goals for a professional Hockey team, finishing the season with 21 goals. And White became the first black Hockey player to ever record a hat trick in a professional Hockey game. That feat was accomplished on March 1, 1973 in Minnesota, USA.
With under 10 minutes to go in the 3rd period, White netted three goals for the Sharks in a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Fighting Saints. The first two came the standard way: beating the goaltender with shots. The goaltender that gave up White's first two goals was Jack McCartan, the gold-medal winning goaltender for Team USA at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California and former New York Rangers goalie.
White's third goal, and 21st goal of the season, was credited without having White shoot the puck. With the net empty late in the game and Los Angeles up 3-1, White was sprung for a breakaway. However, a Saints player threw his stick into White's path, and the play was blown dead. The officials made the correct call in awarding White the goal, giving him his first career hat trick and the first hat trick ever recorded by an African-Canadian or African-American Hockey player.
White played four seasons in the WHA with the New York Raiders, Los Angeles Sharks, and the Michigan Stags/Baltimore Blades.
White recorded 38 goals and 46 assists in 145 WHA games during his career there.
White ended his Hockey career with the North American Hockey League Syracuse Blazers in 1975, scoring 26 goals and 29 assists in 45 games.
After White retired from Hockey, he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia to live and work with his brother Ken, who owned a construction company.
Photo above is from 1972, when White played for the WHA New York Raiders.