Storm coach could 'Barr' record

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

If the Guelph Storm manage to defeat the London Knights tonight, just call Dave Barr the ultimate streak-buster.

Barr, general manager and head coach of the Storm, played on the Edmonton Oil Kings team that stopped the Brandon Wheat Kings' unbeaten string at 29 back in 1978-79.

By way of a head-shaking coincidence, Guelph is the last team standing in the way of the Knights as they try to make it 30 straight without a loss to leap over that powerhouse Brandon squad for the Canadian Hockey League record.

The Knights and Storm face off tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.

"Hopefully, you'll be able to write (tomorrow) that I was part of a team that stopped both streaks," Barr, the 44-year-old former NHLer, said. "I didn't even realize we (Edmonton) were the team that stopped Brandon. They were in our division, we played them 16 times that season and didn't beat them very often. Brandon had a run of outstanding teams for a couple of years there -- maybe that's why I don't remember it that clearly. They were always winning games."

Brandon was 24-0-5 before its first loss (9-4) on Dec. 13, 1978, in Edmonton after making an overnight 13-hour bus trip from Brandon, Man., following an exhibition game against the Moscow Selects the previous night.

Barr played 72 games for the Oil Kings in 1978-79, scoring 16 goals and 35 points for a team that struggled to a 17-43-12 record. Brandon finished with an incredible 58-5-9 mark.

Barr recalled Edmonton and Brandon meeting in a divisional playoff round-robin along with Saskatoon, which the Wheat Kings dominated.

"I think we had one game that we were within one goal of them," Barr said. "They were a great team. (Brian) Propp scored 90 goals. They had four first-round draft picks. I could go on and name half of their team. When you played Brandon, it was a man's game."

Barr sees a lot of the same qualities in the current Knights squad.

"You look at the front-end guys, the first four or five, and Brandon and London are pretty similar," he said. "There's a lot of talent there: skating, physical play and exceptional special teams."

However, the Storm aren't conceding anything. They figure they are capable of beating the Knights on a good night and their coach is one of the few guys who can say he's been in this spoiler position before.

"We've known for the past three weeks that we were No. 30 on London's schedule," Barr said. "We're treating it like a playoff game. Usually, you'd start preparing for a Friday game on Wednesday or Thursday but we've been prepping for this since Monday."

Despite the short drive, Barr didn't attend the London-Kitchener game on Wednesday night.

"It was on TV (Rogers Cable), I just watched at home rather than stand in the corner behind five people," he said.

Barr marvelled at the Knights' second-period power-play that led to a Rob Schremp goal. London hemmed the Rangers in their own end for nearly two minutes and never let their opponents touch the puck.

"It was unbelievable and Kitchener has a good penalty kill," Barr said. "We have pretty good special teams and we've done all right against London's power play. It's going to be a challenge. We need good goaltending and if we get it, we think we'll be all right."

As Barr's 1978-79 Edmonton Oil Kings proved, nobody is unbeatable forever.


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