67's win makes O'Brien's day

SHANE ROSS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

As Bert O'Brien, longtime assistant coach of the Ottawa 67's, was being honoured before last night's game against the Barrie Colts at the Civic Centre, he turned to the Colts bench and thanked them for their patience.

They were here for a hockey game, not to see him thanked for his 23 years behind the 67's bench. Not to watch Mayor Larry O'Brien -- no relation -- proclaim March 6, 2009, Bert O'Brien Day. Not watch him receive a trip for two to Ireland and a fancy framed picture.

Bert O'Brien, never one to seek the spotlight, was there for a hockey game, too. But he was not going to get away that easily. These days, everyone wants a piece of O'Brien and longtime buddy, 67's coach and GM Brian Kilrea, who are retiring after this season after 22 years behind the bench together.

"Thanks, everyone," O'Brien said after a brief speech as the 8,870 fans rose to their feet and applauded. "All you people are my friends."

Now drop the darn puck, please. There's hockey to be played.

"Everyone's saying it's winding down," said the 69-year-old O'Brien. "I hope it doesn't wind down until late May, with a trip to Rimouski (for the Memorial Cup)."

EARLY 4-0 LEAD

The Colts probably wished the ceremony had dragged on a little longer. They were down 4-0 on six shots before the game was even 10 minutes old, and the 67's went on to win 6-3.

They barely got the carpet rolled up from centre ice before Thomas Kiriakou started the scoring parade at 1:28. It was followed by goals from rookie Tyler Toffoli, Logan Couture, with his 32nd of the year, Toffoli again and Cody Lindsay, who clanged it off the top shelf.

That was enough for Colts goalie Michael Hutchinson, who was replaced by Peter DiSalvo at the start of the second period.

The Colts came back with three unanswered goals in the second before Lindsay scored again in the third.

The game might have been a preview of a first-round playoff matchup. Ottawa is third in the East and the Colts are tied for sixth. Both teams have four games remaining. The 67's final game of the regular season is March 15 at home against Kingston, when Kilrea will be honoured.

After standing beside each other for more than 2,000 games, Kilrea and O'Brien are still not sick of each other.

"We've had a few arguments, but not many marriages last 20 years without an argument," O'Brien said.

SHANE.ROSS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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