AHL News



Pair of forwards set to become 66th and 67th members of prestigious club

Nov 21, 2022

The Rochester Americans are pleased to announce today that the team will induct forwards Val James and Jason Pominville into the Amerks Hall of Fame as the Class of 2023. Unanimously selected for induction by the Amerks Hall of Fame Committee, James and Pominville will take their rightful place in the prestigious club during a pregame ceremony on Friday, Jan. 27 when Rochester hosts the Charlotte Checkers at 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena.


Hall of Fame Night is presented by UR Medicine Orthopaedics & Physical Performance.


James, the first American-born black player in Amerks and NHL history, appeared in 253 games with the Amerks from 1980-81 to 1984-85 and was a fan favorite over his five seasons with the club.

“This is an incredible honor as I spent some amazing years with the Amerks,” said James. “The Amerks organization is top notch, and the fans were always there for me. I have nothing but great memories of my teammates and coaches and am forever grateful for my time in Rochester.”


After a brief three-game stint with the Amerks in 1980-81, James would remain in Rochester for the next four seasons, leading the team to a playoff appearance each year and culminating with a Calder Cup championship in 1983. His biggest on-ice contribution came that year when he scored the game-winning goal in the deciding game of the Calder Cup Finals against the Maine Mariners, earning Rochester its first of two Calder Cups in a four-year span during the 1980s.


Originally a 16th-round pick (184th overall) of the Detroit Red Wings in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft, James collected 24 points (10+14) and 496 penalty minutes during his Amerks career.


It was also during his time with the Amerks that James made a substantial impact on the game of hockey, becoming the first African American player in the NHL when he took to the ice with the Buffalo Sabres in 1982. In 1987, he once again made history as the first black player of any nationality to skate for the Toronto Maple Leafs. While popular for his tough play and winning personality, James faced racist taunts at opposing arenas throughout his career.


A native of Ocala, Florida, James retired following the 1987-88 season after additional stops in St. Catharines, Newmarket and Baltimore, concluding an eight-year professional playing career with 34 points (14+20)…

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