Killer of an effort for 67's

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

Brian Kilrea sat back in his chair, a cold can of Export in front of him and the stub of an almost extinguished cigar perched on the edge of the table.

Many beers and cigars have faced a similar fate, but few have been part of a special celebration.

His wife, Judy, was at the next table, sitting with friends and relatives, and there were other friends and Ottawa 67's staff soaking up the atmosphere in a lounge downstairs at the Civic Centre on a special afternoon.

"The first 1,100 are the toughest," said Kilrea, pausing a moment before breaking out in a big laugh, bringing smiles and laughs from the rest of the room.

The coach and GM got the 1,100th win of his Hall-0f-Fame career yesterday as the 67's beat the Soo Greyhounds 4-1 at the Civic Centre. In the minutes after history was made, 67's winger Arron Alphonso wore a big smile on his face and a bag of ice on his right hand.

Alphonso had a goal and two assists in yesterday's win and had offered his sore hand, in a fist, to to a reluctant, old-school Kilrea behind the bench in the seconds after the win.

"He didn't want to tap fists, but I said, 'C'mon, Killer, it's a milestone. You have to,' and he finally did," laughed Alphonso. "We're proud of Killer. We wanted to get him this win for the last three games. Everyone came to play today. We're happy for him."

Soo coach Craig Hartsburg and assistant Denny Lambert, the former Senator, walked across the ice to shake Kilrea's hand and the announced crowd of 7,116 cheered their approval.

So, there's another remarkable milestone for the 72-year-old Kilrea, our living legend, in his 30th year with the 67's and easily the best coach in major junior hockey history.

'ANY WIN IS SPECIAL'

"Any win is special, only because we're in such a dogfight to survive," said Kilrea. "I thought that was a big team effort. Everyone played as hard as they could."

The win improved the undermanned 67's record to 6-8 and into a tie for second place in the OHL's East Division. And there's more good news for the 67's.

Logan Couture has been skating after his bout with mononucleosis and could get clearance to play Friday when the 67's host the Plymouth Whalers. Ditto for rookie Matt Ribiero.

Couture, 17 and projected as a top pick in the next summer's NHL draft, has been out for the 67's last nine games, but said yesterday he's feeling much better and is anxious to get back.

The 67's played yesterday without centre Thomas Kiriakou who is out with an injured foot after blocking a shot in Friday night's loss to the Belleville Bulls. The hope in the 67's camp is it's just a bruise and not a fracture.

Centre Brett Liscomb showed some guts and was back in the lineup yesterday after missing Friday's game following a slash on the leg by Belleville captain Andrew Gibbons Wednesday night.

Still out are defenceman Brodie Beard (shoulder) and winger Pat Daley (charleyhorse), though they are close to returning as well.

Kilrea will have to put on his GM's hat because he is going to have a surplus of players soon and might have to move some bodies. There is also a chance forward Julian Cimadamore, who was having a strong training camp before he left for a chance for a scholarship, could join the 67's. His family was in town yesterday.

Yesterday, the 67's built a 3-0 lead on goals by Joe Grimaldi, Shea Kewin and Alphonso before Jacob Muzzin spoiled Brady Morrison's shutout bid late in the game on the power play. Kewin added an empty netter.

NOTES: Jiri Tlusty, the Toronto Maple Leafs first-round draft pick (13th overall) who was just sent down from their AHL farm club, wasn't much of a factor in the game ... After a slow second period, things were livened up in the third with a good scrap between Ottawa's Matt Lahey and the Soo's Tyler Cuthbert. Lahey scored a decisive takedown.


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