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The effort to add young minority hockey players in North America turns its attention to keeping them



ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Braeden Montague walked into the Washington Capitals practice facility following a long drive back from a summer trip to Winnipeg. The crowd inside made it worth the trek.

In the building were more than 100 fellow hockey players of color. On the ice were four Black coaches. Montague, who is of Black and Indian heritage, was stunned.

“I’m not the only one,” the 15-year-old recalled thinking.

That was the point.

The Rising Stars Academy in late August was designed to provide minority hockey players with elite on-ice skill development and off-ice training geared toward problem-solving and handling some racist elements in a sport that remains predominantly white. Fifteen years in the making, the program — one of only two of its kind around the NHL — represents the next step for players and their families who have already chosen hockey with the aim of retaining them and showing them a path to playing in high school, college and beyond.

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