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Shandor Alphonso never envisioned his hockey career taking him to officiating. He didn’t have to look far to see it was possible.As a young John Carlson Jersey , black player, all Alphonso had to do was watch ”Hockey Night in Canada” or the Stanley Cup Final and he saw fellow minority Jay Sharrers working as a linesman.”To be able to see someone who kind of looked like me working at the biggest stage of his job, it was unreal,” Alphonso said.The 34-year-old Alphonso is the NHL’s only African-American official, and Calgary Flames assistant Paul Jerrard is the league’s only black coach. With the sport’s expansion to some nontraditional markets across the United States, there are almost two dozen black players in the NHL, but Sharrers, Alphonso and Jerrard serve as inspiration for more to follow into positions of authority.”I think it’s an evolutionary process,” said Sharrers, who recently retired. ”It’s definitely moved slowly, but I think when you just look at the amount of black players that are now in the league and the fact that that has increased Lars Eller Jersey , it would stand to reason that hopefully the opportunity for officials would present itself.”Sixty years after Willie O’Ree of the Boston Bruins broke the color barrier as the NHL’s first black player, the league is still taking steps to increase its diversity. Alphonso is an ambassador for the ”Hockey is for Everyone” campaign this month, which is Black History Month.Sharrers acknowledged the expense of playing hockey has been a hurdle for minority children for years, but said he is optimistic that more will not only lace up their skates but move into other roles.”It just stands to reason that that would be a natural progression, that there would more officials of color,” Sharrers said. ”The league has been very proactive since they partnered with Willie and created the diversity taskforce almost 20 years ago to expose and to present to people of color that hockey is a great game and it’s a viable opportunity.”Opportunities have existed for minorities to get into coaching and officiating, though the majority have ended up as goaltending coaches like former NHL goalie Fred Brathwaite. Jerrard played five games in the NHL and then went into coaching, where he’s a visible role model – even if that’s not a role he was looking for.”I’m just another coach who’s trying to do a good job in the league and stay in the league,” said Jerrard, 52, who has been an assistant with the Colorado Avalanche Madison Bowey Jersey , Dallas Stars and Flames along with several American Hockey League teams. ”I guess I am now in a little bit of a position of a role model, but my drive to be a role model isn’t due to the color of my skin. It’s just the way I wanted carry myself as a human being, the way I want to be looked at: doing the right thing and working hard.”Jerrard hopes kids seeing minorities on the ice playing or officiating or behind the bench coaching shows that ”if they’re skilled, driven and passionate, there’s an opportunity for them.”That’s what happened for Alphonso, who knew he wasn’t going to make it to the NHL as a player and wanted to stay in the game. He thought to himself, ”If Jay Sharrers can do it, I could do it” and followed him up the ranks.Now Alphonso is the one kids can look up to, and Sharrers – who became the NHL’s first black referee in 2001 – believes his younger counterpart can have an even bigger impact.”Being that his skin is a lot darker than mine and I’m very light-skinned, it wouldn’t register necessarily with someone unless they knew my background to know that I was a person of color,” Sharrers said. ”I think for him having both parents being black and being much more of a visible minority Nicklas Backstrom Jersey , if you will, I think that’s definitely a role that he will now assume.”Alphonso welcomes that position and would love to one day meet a fellow official he inspired to go that route.”It’s huge for younger kids to see there are way more things to hockey than just being a hockey player,” Alphonso said. ”That’s hopefully what we can inspire these kids to do and get them more involved with the game down the road.”— NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Smith and Calgary’s defenders were plenty busy in Smith’s 37th career shutout.Smith made 43 saves and Sean Monahan scored twice to lead the Flames to a 3-0 victory over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.Elias Lindholm also scored and Johnny Gaudreau assisted on all three goals for Calgary, winners of two of three.The loss was Nashville’s first after a pair of road wins to open the season.Smith was stellar, especially in the second period when he turned aside 21 shots. Nashville had a two-man advantage for a full 2 minutes in the period.“It was huge,” Smith said. “At that time of the game, to kill 2 minutes straight 5-on-3 says a lot about the character of our group. Our penalty killers did a tremendous job in front of me blocking shots and getting important clears.”Smith’s best save came with 12:29 remaining in the second, when he gloved Ryan Hartman’s wrist shot from the left side at the conclusion of a 2-on-1 rush.“I don’t think we took away his sight very well, maybe a couple of instances,” Hartman said. “I think we could have (done) a better job of being in front of him James Neal Jersey Womens , make it a little harder for him. … He had a great night.”Lindholm scored the game’s first goal with just under four minutes remaining in the opening period.With Calgary on a power play, Gaudreau carried the puck through the slot and found Lindholm on the right side, where he beat Pekka Rinne with a wrist shot on the glove side for his third goal of the season.“We started on time. … I liked our first period,” Flames coach Bill Peters said. “Obviously for me, the 3-vs.-5 penalty kill for the full 2 minutes, that was huge. It was 2-0 at the time. We were plus-2 on the specialty teams, so credit both the power play and the penalty kill.”Rinne finished with 24 saves.“I think you have to give their goalie some credit,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “He played a really good game. I don’t think the chances were as good in the first period as they were in the second and third periods. It seemed like we fired more pucks and made it a little more difficult in the later periods.”The Flames doubled their lead at 5:22 of the second on a power-play goal from Monahan.Rinne kicked aside Matthew Tkachuk’s shot from the high slot, but the rebound landed right on the tape of Monahan’s stick on the left side, where he had an easy tap-in.Early in the third, Monahan carried the puck into the Nashville zone on the left side on a 2-on-1 with Mattias Ekholm defending. With Ekholm splayed on the ice T.J. Oshie Jersey , Monahan’s shot hit the Swedish defenseman’s left skate and slid between Rinne’s pads.“When you play with the players I play with, it makes it easy,” said Monahan, who leads the Flames with four goals. “When you get looks I get, obviously it’s pretty lucky.”NOTES: Before the game, Nashville raised three banners, honoring last regular season’s Central Division title, Western Conference regular-season championship and Presidents’ Trophy. … Gaudreau, Monahan and Tkachuk have all recorded at least one point in each of Calgary’s three games this season. … Gaudreau has 18 points in 13 career games against Nashville.UP NEXTFlames: At St. Louis on Thursday night.Predators: Host Winnipeg on Thursday night.

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