Clash of the Kellys: Pt. 2

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

The two Kellys are still waging a war that began nearly three decades ago.

Calgary Hitmen GM/head coach and his Brandon Wheat Kings counterpart Kelly McCrimmon will go head-to-head tonight (6:30 p.m., The Fan 960, Shaw TV) when Game 1 of the best-of-seven affair kicks off in Manitoba.

But there was a time when their battles were more physical and less strategic.

Kisio's Calgary Wranglers tangled with McCrimmon's Wheat Kings in the 1980 WHL playoffs.

And after a hard-fought seven-game Wheaties victory, McCrimmon holds the bragging rights.

"For our team, it was the year after we won the league," McCrimmon said of the record-setting 1978-79 Wheat Kings powerhouse.

"Calgary had a real good club. They were second, we were fifth. We ended up going back to Calgary for Games 6 and 7 and we won them both."

Kisio never saw action in either game. Wheaties bruiser Boris Fistric -- the father of current Vancouver Giants d-man Mark -- ended Kisio's series in the second game with a monster hit.

The Wranglers sniper, who was scheduled to fly back to Calgary for medical assistance, needed a lift to the airport. And you'll never guess who served as the chauffeur.

"My girlfriend at the time -- my wife now -- and myself drove Kiss to the airport," McCrimmon said.

With Kisio, who had 65 goals and 138 points during the regular season, out of the lineup, the Wheaties had a big advantage, McCrimmon said.

"We had a big, strong team," said McCrimmon, who is up for WHL executive of the year, an award Kisio won last year.

"Calgary had a great year but they were a little smaller. Kelly was a

19-year-old rookie and was one of their key players. He was a very good offensive player, finished in the top 10 in scoring and played both ways."

Kisio doesn't remember much about the series, maybe because it was 25 years ago or perhaps due to the Fistric hit.

"That was a long time ago," Kisio said, chucking. "Kelly was on the other team. They had a real good, tough team. I think we had a couple of brawls in that series.

"I don't remember half the guys who were on that team but I think Kelly was the captain."

McCrimmon and Kisio have since moved their friendly rivalry to the boardroom where both GMs are considered to be among the best in the business. Both decided to move behind the bench last fall.

It's a familiar spot for McCrimmon, who coached four seasons earlier in his career, but this is Kisio's maiden voyage.

The Hitmen boss would like nothing better than to cap of his rookie coaching season by evening the score against his old adversary.

"That would be nice," Kisio said.


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