67's set to 'Rock' and roll down east

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Brian Kilrea becomes a rookie this weekend.

The 70-year-old Hall of Fame coach and GM of the Ottawa 67's makes his first trip to Newfoundland where his OHL team meets the expansion St. John's Fog Devils of the QMJHL in a pair of exhibition contests starting tomorrow in Corner Brook.

The big question is: Will they use Molson Ex for Kilrea during the traditional "Screech-In" ceremony?

"There aren't too many times where you get to experience a first in the life of Brian Kilrea," said 67's owner Jeff Hunt, who helped arrange the pre-season games with Fog Devils owner Brad Dobbin.

Hunt is a Corner Brook native and spent many of his formative years on "The Rock" before moving with his family to Ottawa after his father, the late Sandy Hunt, was transferred to Ontario as an officer with the RCMP.

"It's kind of like the ultimate weekend for me," said Hunt, who will act as tour guide to Kilrea, assistant coach Bert O'Brien, who hasn't been to Newfoundland since 1966, and many of the players who will be making their first trip to Atlantic Canada.

"It's going to be lots of fun for me, and probably for the rest of the team," said Hunt. "It's a chance to get back to my hometown and see some old friends and some relatives."

The Fog Devils sold out the 3,400-seat Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook, located on the western end of the island, for the games tomorrow night and Sunday afternoon.

'GREAT PR MOVE'

"It's a great PR move for them to bring the games to another part of the province other than St. John's and give them a taste of junior hockey," said Hunt.

The 67's depart Ottawa this morning and switch planes in Halifax, fly to Deer Lake, Nfld., and complete the trip with a 50-km bus ride southwest to Corner Brook.

"Our players are really excited about this trip," said Hunt. "It's a chance to bond like only you can on a road trip, and it's a chance to do that before the regular season begins."

The 67's return home on Monday before hitting the road on Tuesday for an exhibition game against the Frontenacs in Kingston.

They host the Belleville Bulls on Sept. 17 (7:15 p.m.) and Kingston on Sept. 18 to complete the pre-season schedule.

The 67's open the regular season Sept. 23 in Sault Ste. Marie. The home opener is Sept. 30 vs. Toronto.


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