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AHL's Ontario Reign forms first all-Black line in pro hockey since 1940s

Arun Srinivasan
·Writer
·2-min read
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 06:  A shot by Akil Thomas #14 of the Ontario Reign bounces off the crossbar behind Logan Thompson #36 of the Henderson Silver Knights as Jack Dugan #8 
 of the Silver Knights and Mikey Eyssimont #21 of the Reign look for a rebound in the first period of the Silver Knights' inaugural regular-season home opener at the Orleans Arena on February 6, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Silver Knights defeated the Reign 5-2.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ontario Reign forward Akil Thomas scored a natural hat-trick, while being paired with Devante Smith-Pelly and Quinton Byfield to form the first all-Black line in professional hockey since the 1940s. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Devante Smith-Pelly, Quinton Byfield and Akil Thomas made history when they were paired together for Sunday's game against the Bakersfield Condors.

The trio were featuring for the AHL's Ontario Reign, the affiliate for the Los Angeles Kings, and became the first all-Black line in professional hockey since the 1940s, when Herb and Ozzie Carnegie, along with Manny McIntyre formed a line that came to be known as the "Black Aces" among various stops.

It was a memorable night for the line, historical reasons aside. Byfield showed off his impressive scoring touch with a nifty deke on a breakaway, after breaking out of the penalty box. Thomas, meanwhile, notched the first professional hat trick of his pro career over the span of two minutes and 43 seconds, forcing the game into overtime.

In large part due to Thomas' heroics, the Reign emerged with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Condors.

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Smith-Pelly is best known for his stint with the Washington Capitals, winning a Stanley Cup with the franchise in 2018. Byfield went second overall in the 2020 NHL Draft and is one of the most promising prospects in all of hockey, while Thomas is a dynamic scorer who gained national attention after scoring the game-winning goal in the gold medal game of the 2020 World Juniors.

For historical context, the Carnegie brothers and McIntyre became the first recorded all-Black line in professional hockey during the 1941-42 season for the Timmins Buffalo Ankerites. The line was reunited with stops with Shawinigan Falls and Sherbrooke in the Quebec Senior Hockey League.

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