Akilah Thomas was away on a business trip to Atlanta but was glued to her cell phone as Canada and Russia locked horns in 2020 World Junior Hockey gold medal game in the Czech Republic. With 3:58 minutes left in a 3-3 game, her son Akil hopped on the ice and closed in on the Russian goalie, then her phone froze. “I had no idea how the play ended up,” she laughed as she waited for her son to emerge from the crowd of passengers at the arrival area of Toronto Pearson Airport.
Yes, she had missed the final moment of Akil’s goal that capped a come-from-behind victory for Canada’s hockey juniors and the 2020 gold medal. In that instant the name Akil Thomas joined the ranks of Paul Henderson, Darryl Sittler, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby, who scored winning goals for Team Canada.
Apart from being a source of pride in Scarborough, where he was born and where he first stepped on the ice at the age of two, Akil Thomas is the son of Barbados-born mother and Toronto-born father Kahlil Thomas, and so his accomplishments in hockey matters a great deal to the Caribbean-Canadian community. A community that has grown accustomed to having high achievers in athletics, soccer and basketball, but has barely scratched the surface of their country’s national sport. Now thre is Akil Thomas to look out for.
Akil’s dad Kahlil was a right wing who played nearly 700 games in nine pro leagues in three countries, and is an assistant coach of the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbitts. He and Akilah are also part owners of the Oshawa RiverKings of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League.
Akil has been drafted by the NHL Los Angeles Kings and currently is preparing for entry into the big league as the captain of the Niagara IceDogs in the Ontario Hockey League. In the meantime he has kept his options open to a successful life as he currently operates Zale Apparel, his own clothing store. Nurtured by his parents’ eye for business, Zale Apparel will piggyback on Akil recent hockey heroics by launching limited edition gear.
Thomas’s mother is not entirely surprised at her son’s success so far. She says that he always had it in him, and now she says: “I want other kids to know that whatever your dream level, whatever your vision is, you can do it.”