Junior hockey coaching legend Brian Kilrea reached another milestone Sunday, recording his 1,100th career win as his Ottawa 67's defeated the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4-1 in Ontario Hockey League action.
Kilrea, who has more wins than any coach in Canadian junior hockey history, picked up his 1,099th victory a week ago, then watched his struggling 67's (6-8-0-0) lose two straight.
"It took a couple of games to get it, but any win is special, only because we're in such a dogfight to survive," said Kilrea, whose team is tied for second in the OHL's East division.
The 72-year-old is in his 30th season behind the 67's bench. He left for two seasons (1984-85 and 1985-86) to be an assistant to Al Arbour with the NHL's New York Islanders.
Kilrea also took a one-year hiatus from coaching in 1994-95,handing the reins to former 67's star Peter Lee in order to focus on his duties as general manager.
Kilrea has two Memorial Cup titles to his name, in 1984 and 1999.
Remembers first win
Kilrea's first victory came on Sept. 27, 1974, with a 9-5 win over the Toronto Marlboros, a game Kilrea said he still recalls.
"I do, as a matter of fact," he said. "That was my introduction to junior hockey. It looked like it was a wide-open game and it was like the rules of [hockey] today, everybody was flying and no hitting, although today there was a lot of hitting."
In January 1997, Kilrea won his 742nd game— a 6-0 drubbing of the North Bay Centennials— to pass Ken Hodge of the Western Hockey League's Portland Winter Hawks to become Canadian junior hockey's all-time leader.
Kilrea became the first junior coach to hit the 1,000-win mark with a 4-2 triumph over the Sudbury Wolvesin March2003, and later that year was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
FollowingKilrea's entry into the hall of fame, the OHL named its coach of the year award in his honour.
The late Bert Templeton ranks No. 2 on the Canadian Hockey League's all-time win list with 907 victories. Among active OHL coaches, Kilrea's next-closest competitor is Peter DeBoer of the Kitchener Rangers, who had 447 careerwins after the Rangers' meeting with the Mississauga IceDogs on Sunday.