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Black History Month

Black History Month spotlight: Riley joins Marson

Each dress for Capitals in same game

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

As part of the NHL's celebration of Black History Month, NHL.com will highlight great moments and important figures in black hockey history each day throughout February. Pioneers like Willie O'Ree, Angela James and Grant Fuhr will be featured.

Today we look at Michael Marson and Bill Riley, who each played for the Washington Capitals in the same game.

It took 16 years for Michael Marson to follow Willie O'Ree as the NHL's second black player. Bill Riley needed less than three months to become No. 3.

 

[RELATED: Black History Month coverage]

 

Marson was a 19-year-old forward who was a second-round selection (No. 19) by the expansion Washington Capitals in the 1974 NHL Draft. Riley was a 24-year-old forward who signed with Washington after a tryout in during the Capitals' first season.

Marson dressed for opening night and played 76 of Washington's 80 games. One of those was a 4-1 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 26, 1974. The game itself was unremarkable, one of the Capitals' 67 losses. But it represented a historic moment in the NHL; for the first time, a team dressed two black players in the same game.

Riley was returned to Dayton of the International Hockey League after the game and didn't surface again until 1976-77, when he had 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) in 43 games. He and Marson were together often in 1977-78, when Riley had 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 57 games and Marson finished with eight points (four goals, four assists) in 46 games. Each played his last NHL game in 1979-80, though Riley was a consistent scorer in the American Hockey League through 1983-84 before going into coaching.

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