No place like home
Kilrea has two Memorial Cups in his career -- he'd like to add a third before walking out the door this spring -- but his most memorable might have come May 23, 1999 in his home town. Matt Zultek scored the overtime winner to give the 67's a 7-6 win over the Calgary Hitmen. How did the 67's celebrate? A few guys went for a chilly swim in the Rideau Canal.
Making a run
The 67's weren't expected to make the Memorial Cup in 1977, but Kilrea doesn't pay much attention to the odds. The club knocked off the heavily favoured London Knights that included the likes of Rob Ramage and Brad Marsh. The 67's, led by Doug Wilson, Bobby Smith and Steve Marangere, went all the way to the Cup final. The 67's rallied from a 5-2 deficit against the New Westminster Bruins, but lost 6-5.
Batting a thousand
Kilrea is the winningest coach in major junior hockey history. He was able to score win No. 1,000 on March 9, 2003 with a 4-3 victory against the Sudbury Wolves. Across the ice was late legendary coach Bert Templeton, the man who ranks second all-time in coaching victories behind Kilrea. In honour of Kilrea's 1,000th victory, the Canadian Hockey League named the coach-of-the-year trophy after the 67's coach.
Why is he Killer?
The first time Kilrea got called "Killer" was with the IHL's Troy Bruins in the late 1950s. Apparently, his teammates found it easier to call him "Killer" than Kilrea. Of course, his original nickname given to him by his late mother Bea was "Giggles." That's because Kilrea had such a happy-go-lucky disposition as a child. The players will tell you that changed a bit behind the bench.
Kilrea made his debut behind the 67's bench on Sept. 27, 1974. Kilrea was hired to replace Bill Long, and his first game was wild, with the 67's beating the Toronto Marlboros 9-5. Rookie Frank Donnelly scored nine seconds into the first period for the 67's. Kilrea promised an offensive team that would move the puck and he delivered.
The first title
There have been plenty of memorable moments in Kilrea's storied career, but not many are going to be more special than his first Memorial Cup victory. On May 19, 1984, Kilrea helped the club bring home the franchise's first national title. Don McLaren led the 67's in scoring, but Brad Shaw, Gary Roberts, Bruce Cassidy and Darren Pang were among the notables who also made huge contributions to the Cup run. This was a team that just got the job done.
What's in a name?
Kilrea will always be remembered as a legend in Ottawa hockey circles and the city has made sure he won't be forgotten. On Oct. 2, 1999, the city named the Canterbury Arena on Arch St. the Brian Kilrea Arena. The 67's usually practise at the Civic Centre, but when there was no ice available downtown, the club went to the rink located near Kilrea's home to work out. The Brian Kilrea Teaching Room, part of the Medical Day Unit, will open at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in June.
In hockey's home
Trying to sort through the big moments isn't easy, but the biggest honour might have come on Nov. 3, 2003. That's when Kilrea was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in the builders category -- for all the players he sent to the NHL. Accompanied by his wife Judy, Kilrea called it "the proudest moment of my life" and he was inducted with some pretty good company -- including Pat LaFontaine, Grant Fuhr and Detroit owner Mike Ilitch.
Call it longevity
Kilrea coached his 2,000th game behind the club's bench on Feb. 2, 2007. Jakub Vojta scored the overtime winner in a 4-3 decision over the St. Michael's Majors for the 1,116th win of Kilrea's career. Jamie McGinn and Logan Couture also scored for the longest-serving coach in hockey history. CBC's Don Cherry was on hand to honour his friend, and the game featured a 20-minute pre-game ceremony with a video tribute and many of the players from his first team.
Nobody can question Kilrea's record behind the bench, and he's got the numbers to prove it. On Jan. 17, 1997, Kilrea set a CHL record by recording win No. 742 of his career in a 6-0 decision over the North Bay Centennials at the Civic Centre. Everybody, including Alyn McCauley, chipped in to help Kilrea get the victory, with Craig Hillier recording the shutout.