Jarome Iginla: How the NHL's First Black Captain Gives Backby Nicole Mortillaro
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He's the face of the Calgary Flames, but there's much more to Jarome Iginla's story than just being the first black captain of an NHL team. He's also renowned for his social commitment and generosity off the ice. Jarome (nicknamed Iggy) grew up in a single-parent household in St. Albert, Alberta. It was thanks to support of his grandparents that he started to play hockey. His hard work paid off and, in 1996, at the age of 18, Iggy was drafted into the NHL. He went on to become a multiple-award-winning hockey player and two-time Olympic champion. But he never forgot his struggles in his rise to hockey stardom. Today, Iginla plays an important role for many young hockey-loving Canadians by working to ensure that the sport is open to committed players of all backgrounds. [Fry Reading Level - 5.0]
Read an Excerpt
The Stanley Cup.
It was within reach. It was so close. As captain of the Calgary Flames, Jarome Iginla was ready to take it. It was unlike him to seem so hungry for something. His normally generous nature had taken a backseat to his drive for the Cup. Like every player on his team, Jarome had been dreaming of it from his earliest days on ice. And here he was part of the 2004 run to the National Hockey League's top prize.
The arena was loud. Fans cheered as the anthem ended. But the players from both teams the Calgary Flames and the Tampa Bay Lightning were focused. They knew they had to play their hardest and their best.
The series had been a tight one. The teams seemed evenly matched. They went back and forth within each game. But now it was a game that both teams desperately wanted to win. The series was tied at two apiece heading into this fifth game. The winner would command a 32 lead in the series. They would be just one game away from hoisting the coveted trophy. And Jarome wanted this. Both teams desperately wanted to win.
The Flames started the game off scoring when Toni Lydman scored off a tip-in. But the Lightning were still very much in the series. They wouldn't give up. They tied it up late in the first period. It was obvious that this was going to be another tight game.
Jarome was his team's leader. The polite and soft-spoken young man knew how to lead by example. In the second period, after a flurry around Tampa Bay's goalie, Nikolai Khabibulin, he skated in to his player's defense. Some Lightning players had started to push and shove. He wasn't going to get pushed around, and he wasn't about to let his teammates be pushed around either.
And then, late in the second period, Jarome did what he does best.
There were just over four minutes left in the second. Jarome flew down the right wing, the puck on his stick. For a brief moment, he looked to see who might be coming down centre ice to take the shot from the point. But there was nobody in position. It was obvious that Khabibulin was ready for Jarome to pass off the puck. But Jarome decided to take the shot himself. He fired it hard and in it went. He had tied the game!
"Well," said CBC Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Harry Neale. "How about that shot!"
Jarome celebrated with his teammates. But he knew that this wasn't over. And he was right. It would be another hard-fought game as it headed into overtime.
Meet the Author
NICOLE MORTILLARO is a sports editor and writer from Toronto. Her first book in the Recordbooks series was Something to Prove, a biography of hockey player Bobby Clarke who had to defy stereotypes to earn a spot in the NHL.
NICOLE MORTILLARO is a children's sports books author and editor. She is an avid hockey fan (Leafs, not Flyers!) and has edited several bestselling children's hockey books. Nicole lives north of Toronto with her daughter.
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