Killer keeps promise to Peruginis

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

BARRIE -- True to his word, Brian Kilrea will open his 31st OHL season with an unprecedented twist.

Tonight at the Molson Centre in Barrie, the 67's coach/GM will start a 16-year-old rookie goalie in a Game 1 for the first time when he lines up Chris Perugini 180 feet down ice from his brother Andrew, providing what just might be the first such sibling matchup of its kind in league history.

While Andrew Perugini won 40 games for the Colts last season to establish himself as one of the best 'tenders in the province, Chris wasn't even assured of cracking the Ottawa roster when Kilrea selected him in the third round of the draft last spring.

"It was a deal," Kilrea said yesterday of going with Perugini over Adam Courchaine, who enters the season as the team's No. 1 goalie.

"I made a promise to the Perugini family when I visited them after the draft. I said, if you make our team .... and the brother was right there at the table ... I'll let you play against him. A month later the schedule came out and I saw we opened in Barrie. But you can't go back on your word. I told him he was going to play, and that's the way it's going to be.

He's earned it."

And that's more than okay with the younger Perugini, a slight 136-pounder who was told by trainer Brian Patafie to slip on a white hat and white shoes before the team boarded the bus.

"Why?" asked Perugini.

"I want to use you to clean my ears," quipped Patafie.

Having their two sons square off on such a prominent stage apparently has Cathy and Claudio Perugini in agreement.

"They're cheering for a 0-0 tie, I guess," said Chris.

The rivalry between the two boys extends back to their days as goalies on opposing road hockey teams in King City.

"We both wanted to win, to be the better of the two," said Chris. "I guess we'll see (tonight) who is."

Perugini admitted he and his brother have been chirping each other on the phone this week.

"He's a great goalie, and he's ahead of me right now," Chris said when asked to compare himself to his Andrew. "When I get to that age, hopefully I'll be that good, or even better."

Despite all the confidence the 67's have in their goalies and the goalies have in themselves, the fact remains neither of the two they're leaving the gate with have played an OHL game. Courchaine , however, was impressive enough as an invitee to Boston's camp that there's talk the Bruins now want to sign him.

Kilrea's plan is to start Courchaine tomorrow in Brampton and Sunday in Kingston, then give each of his goalies a start next weekend, when the 67's make their Civic Centre debut.

Meanwhile, the 67's expect to be without Czech defenceman Radim Ostrcil for 2-3 weeks as he recovers from a wrist injury suffered at the Bruins' camp. Their pairings tonight will see Tyler Cuma and Julien Demers as the workhorses, with Sean Ryan alongside Czech Martin Paryzek and Matthew MacDougall next to newcomer Keith Wynn.

The strength of the 67's lies at forward.

Logan Couture and captain Jamie McGinn have returned from camp with the San Jose Sharks and are expected to be two of the prominent players in the league.

"It was a great experience," McGinn said of his first taste of pro camp. "I'm looking forward to being on the ice (tonight) still at an NHL tempo. I'm hoping to dominate and get off to a great start."

So is Couture, who missed the start of last season with mono. The smooth centre was very impressed with what he saw in Sharks-land, noting the dedication of a veteran like Jeremy Roenick, who would show up at the rink 90 minutes before the other players to ride the bike.

"He's been in the league so long ... just listening to what he had to say was awesome," said Couture, San Jose's first round pick in June. "Just watching the pros before they go on the ice, what they do to get ready ... it was a great experience for me."

Couture and McGinn will have rookie Michael Latta as a linemate tonight, though Matt Lahey is back on the ice after arthroscopic surgery to his knee and should assume that spot when he's ready to return.

The second line will see Thomas Kiriakou between Jason Bailey and Matthieu Methot, while Cody Lindsay centres Scott Cowie and Thomas Nesbitt on the third line and Tye McGinn (Jamie's little brother), Ryan Martindale and Johnathan Carnevale make up the fourth line.


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