Kilger has a blast

LANCE HORNBY

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

Somewhere in his own universe, Planet Al Iafrate must have heard a loud boom.

It was the sound of his record for hardest shot in the National Hockey League being broken by Chad Kilger of the Maple Leafs.

With a blast of 106.6 miles per hour at yesterday's team skills competition, Kilger topped Iafrate's mark of 105.2 from the 1993 NHL all-star game.

But before the people from the Guinness Book Of World Records scramble down to Bay St., keep in mind that speed recording devices for hockey shots are very unreliable and not all teams stage annual events such as the Leafs.

But Kilger soaked up the adulation from 12,000 fans at the Air Canada Centre and his teammates after he hammered the historic shot at an empty net and radar gun.

"I'm in shock," said Kilger, who wasn't even listening to the public address preamble about Iafrate's 13-year-old record. "I was shooting low and as hard as I could at the middle of the net, thinking that way, at least I'll hit it."

Kilger warmed up with a 102.4-m.p.h. shot. Bryan McCabe, reputed to have the best shot on the team, was held to 93.4 and no other Leaf broke the 100 mark.

The free-spirited Iafrate played for the Leafs but set his record with the Washington Capitals.

"Unfortunately, the days where you used to come down the wing and bomb it like Mike Gartner or Guy Lafleur don't happen anymore because the defencemen and the goalies are too good," Kilger said. "My shot has improved in the past while, but it's not something you use a lot in a game. Goalies cut their angles and you have nothing to shoot at. I'd love to find more time and space on the ice to use it to my advantage."

Kilger, who turned 30 last week, won the fastest skater competition as well. He did a lap of the ACC in 14.233 seconds. Gartner holds that record of 13.375, set in 1996 when he was a Leaf.

"That's a little more work," Kilger said with a grin. "I was a little worried when I came in today and saw I was in the skater event and saw all the young kids' names. It takes me longer to get warmed up than it used to."

The timing of the frivolity yesterday, which raised $117,000 for the Leafs Fund and the NHLPA Goals and Dreams charity, was good for a team that has lost four in a row and might otherwise have faced a long practice from coach Paul Maurice.

"We need a little time off, to get away from the real game," said winger Alexei Ponikarovsky, winner of the one-on-one shootout event. "But (today), we have to have a good practice and get back on track."

Defenceman Pavel Kubina broke four targets in as many shots to win the accuracy contest, tying a mark set many times by Boston Bruins legend Ray Bourque.

---

AND THE WINNERS ARE

Team Puck Relay

Alexei Ponikarovsky, Ian White and John Pohl def. Bates Battaglia, Brendan Bell and Alex Suglobov

Individual Puck Relay

Matt Stajan def. Alex Steen

Fastest skater

(One lap of the ice)

1. Chad Kilger, 14.233 sec.

2. Brendan Bell, 14.952

3. Alex Steen, 14.919

4. Ian White, 15.033

5. Matt Stajan, 15.192

Hardest shot

1. Chad Kilger, 106.6 m.p.h.

2. Brendan Bell, 99.2

3. Nik Antropov, 98.5

4. Wade Belak, 96.2

5. Bryan McCabe 93.3

Target shooting

(Shots/targets hit)

1. Pavel Kubina, 4/4

2. Tomas Kaberle, 5/4

3. Bryan McCabe, 7/4

4. Alexei Ponikarovsky, 6/3

5. Jeff O'Neill, 8/3

Survivor Shootout

1. Alexei Ponikarovsky

2. Alex Steen

3. Michael Peca


Videos

Photos