67's will try to stick to job at hand in Killer's last call

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

They are going to try and treat it as just another game today.

It won't be, of course.

There will be a little extra in the 67's effort this afternoon when they play the Kingston Frontenacs at the Civic Centre (2 p.m.) as they will try and make coach and GM Brian Kilrea a winner in his last regular-season game behind the bench.

"Nothing needs to be said," said 67's captain Logan Couture, who has raised his play and has been the club's best player in the second half of the season. "We are all proud to be a part of this organization and to have a chance to be part of this. Everyone knows how big it is.

"Even though it's a big game for him, we're going to treat it like any other game. Everybody knows the significance because it's the last regular-season game. We want to make it a win. We're going to work real hard for him."

The game will be preceded by a ceremony honouring Kilrea's 32-season career behind the 67's bench, including 2,155 games coached and his record 1,192 wins, more than any coach in Canadian Hockey League history.

Though today's game will close out the regular-season portion of Kilrea's Hall of Fame career, there is still the matter of the playoffs. The 67's will face the Niagara IceDogs in the first round of the OHL's playoffs starting Friday night at the Civic Centre.

Kilrea, 74, pulled on his skates yesterday morning for one of the last times for practice and then made his way through the 67's dressing room where the players were putting on their equipment.

He stopped to talk to overage forward Thomas Kiriakou, who took a borderline dirty hit from Peterborough Petes forward Jack Walchessen on Friday night that knocked Kiriakou's helmet off and left him a little wobbly legged.

"I got hit harder falling off a barstool," barked Kilrea in Kiriakou's direction from the middle of the dressing room. "You now how high some of those barstools are?" he asked, holding his palm parallel to the floor.

Then he turned on forward Stephen Blunden, who was in the early stages of getting dressed for practice.

"Blunden," Kilrea barked. "You were last to every puck last night. You better not be last on the ice."

Kilrea then laughed as he made his way out of the room and out to the ice.

Kiriakou said the players will concentrate on the job at hand today and try not to get caught up in the significance of the game.

"Killer definitely loves to win. I know he doesn't care about all the attention going on right now. His focus is definitely on winning. That's how Killer is. We're going to tell everybody, 'Don't focus on it, that it's his last game. It's just another game.' "

The 67's can hit the 40-win mark for the 12th time in Kilrea's 32 years behind the Ottawa bench and they have already assured him of a 26th winning season. Kilrea's teams only missed the post-season once.

Out of all the tributes that have poured in for him, perhaps the most significant will be the one that has the potential to impact the lives of many young patients at CHEO.

Yesterday, Kilrea was honoured by the OHL with a cheque presentation in his name at CHEO. The money -- contributed by OHL teams in lieu of individual club recognition of Kilrea's coaching career -- will fund The Brian Kilrea Teaching Room at CHEO. It is now under construction and will be used by teachers at CHEO to help young patients receiving long-term care keep up with their studies.

"A box of cigars is a token I appreciate, but this is something for so many for so long," said Kilrea of the teaching room. "It's a tremendous honour and I can thank the whole league and (OHL commissioner) Dave Branch for getting behind it and doing something for Ontario.

"It's so meaningful to me to have that room associated with me."


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