Now Streaming: ‘Ice Breakers’ Will Fill the Void Left By Hockey’s Hiatus

Courtesy of the NFB

By Pat Mullen

How long can Canadians stay sane without their hockey games? The hiatus of NHL game play leaves Canucks with little to do during their evenings of social/physical distancing. Anyone missing a night watching the game on the telly, or going to wing night at the local pub to the enjoy the show, might find some solace in Ice Breakers, a new short doc released today by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).

Ice Breakers is the first in a series of weekly releases from the NFB. The docs, available to stream free on, offer recent festival favourites and new films for audiences. Sometimes the ironic timing of a campaign works in its favour.

This short doc directed by Sandi Rankaduwa should especially appeal to fans of last year’s Hot Docs hit Willie. Film buffs inspired by the story of Willie O’Ree and his fight to break the colour barrier in the NHL will be taken by this portrait of Josh Crooks. The young Nova Scotian athlete is one of few African-Canadian players in a sport that remains overwhelmingly white. Like O’Ree did decades before, Crooks pursues his passion as joins an often overlooked legacy of players inspiring change each time they hit the ice.

Synopsis: Josh Crooks is a young, gifted African-Canadian hockey player in an overwhelmingly white sport. In its intimate story of transgenerational identity, Ice Breakers reveals the buried history of how Black athletes helped pioneer modern hockey, as Crooks discovers that his passion is tied to a remarkable heritage.

Watch Ice Breakers today from the NFB.

Ice Breakers, Sandamini Rankaduwa, provided by the National Film Board of Canada