The Ontario Hockey Association Major Junior A Series made it known to the Ottawa area that they were eager to expand to the Nation’s Capital in lieu of the construction of the J. Benson Centre as part of Ottawa’s centennial projects. On February 16, 1967, the City of Ottawa was awarded a franchise.
Three parties submitted applications for the team, a group comprised of local businessmen -Bill Cowley, Howard Darwin, and Bill Touhey, as well as Alderman Howard Henry- was successful in bringing Major Junior A hockey to Ottawa for the 1967-68 season. Before the first season began, however, Bill Touhey stepped aside and local sportswriter, Jack Kinsella, became one of the owners.
The owners chose to recognize the year of entry into to league, which was one of the first hockey leagues organized in Canada in the early 1890’s, by naming the club the Ottawa 67’s.
The 67’s would play in the 10-team league that first season, along with Hamilton Red Wings, Kitchener Rangers, London Nationals, Montreal Junior Canadiens, Niagara Falls Flyers, Oshawa Generals, Peterborough Petes, St. Catharines Black Hawks, and Toronto Marlboroughs.
On April 17, 1967, Bill Long, a long-time coach and general manager of the Barrie Flyers, was named the first coach of the 67’s.
Darwin served as president of the club for the first five seasons. At the end of the 1974-75 season, Darwin purchased the shares of the other club owners. He was joined by Earl Montagano as a partner in 1975. The duo operated the 67’s until the sale of the club in 1998 to current owner Jeff Hunt.
A Season of Firsts
First regular-season game was played on October 6, 1967, in Niagara Falls where they lost 9-0 to the Flyers.
First home game was played on October 8, 1967, a 10-5 loss to the Toronto Marlboroughs.
The 67’s played their first 11 home games at the Hull Arena awaiting the completion of the Civic Centre. Their first game in their new home was played on December 29, 1967, a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Junior Canadiens.
First victory came at London where they edged the Nationals, 2-1.
First victory at the J. Benson Centre came on January 1, 1968, a 3-2 win over the Hamilton Red Wings.
Ottawa’s record after their first season was 6-45-3. They scored 105 goals and had 328 goals scored against them.
First playoff experience was at the end of their second regular season, 1968-69. They lost an eight-point quarter-final series, 9-5, to the Niagara Falls Flyers.
First time the 67’s won a playoff series was during the 1970-71 playoffs, defeating the Hamilton Red Wings, 9-5, in an eight-point quarter-final series.
The 67’s went to the Memorial Cup for the first time in 1977 at New Westminster, British Columbia. The three-team round robin also featured the Sherbrooke Beavers from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, as well as the host team, the New Westminster Bruins of the Western Hockey League. The 67’s and Bruins met in the final game with the 67’s coming up short, 6-5.
In 1984, the 67’s entered the Memorial Cup again, this time in Kitchener, Ontario. Beside the host team, the Kitchener Rangers, the Kamloops Jr. Oilers represented the Western Hockey League and Laval Voisins, with Mario Lemieux, came from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The 67’s won their first franchise Memorial Cup defeating the Rangers, 7-2, with Adam Creighton named the Most Valuable Player in the series.
Ottawa won its second Memorial Cup at the J. Benson Centre in 1999 with Matt Zultek scoring the winning goal in overtime to defeat the Calgary Hitmen, 7-6.
The 67’s won the Ontario Hockey League championship in 2001 and played in the Memorial Cup at Regina, Saskatchewan, but were an exhausted hockey club after beating favoured teams to get to the junior championships.
Brian ‘Killer’ Kilrea
After retiring from the NHL in 1970, Brian Kilrea made the transition to coaching in Ottawa in the 1974-75 season. He was behind the Ottawa 67’s bench for 1,612 regular season games, winning 922, the most by any junior coach in North America, and likely the world.
His first victory came in his initial game on September 27, 1974 against the Toronto Malrboroughs, 9-5. During the 1983-1984 season the Ottawa Native lead the 67’s to their first Memorial Cup Victory.
Kilrea then shifted gears from coaching the 67’s after the memorial cup win the have his first and only taste of Coaching in the NHL when he assisted Al Arbour behind the New York Islanders bench.
He returned to the 67’s bench in 1986-87, never to leave Ottawa again. In the mid-1990s Kilrea’s heath forced him to step back from the bench and maintain a scouting role. Shortly after his return, Kilrea set the Canadian Junior record for coaching wins when he collected his 742nd win on January 17, 1997 against the North Bay Centennials.
During his career with the Ottawa 67’s Kilrea helped develop several future NHL stars, including Doug Wilson and Jim Fox. Shortly after collecting his 1000th victory as a head coach in the CHL, he was inducted into the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builder category.
In the 2011-2012 season, he handed the GM duties over to Chris Byrne but has stayed involved with the team through scouting.
Hockey Hall of Fame
Former 67’s defenceman, Denis Potvin, is the first 67’s player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991. He was a member of the 67’s from 1967-68 to 1972-73.
As mentioned earlier Brian Kilrea is also a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame after being inducted into the Builders Category in 2003.
67’s and the NHL
The Ottawa 67’s have produced over 100 NHL players out their Major Junior program including current players: Brian Campbell (Florida Panthers), Cody Ceci (Ottawa Senators), Logan Couture (San Jose Sharks), Jamie McGinn (Colorado Avalanche), Sean Monahan (Calgary Flames), Michael Latta (Washington Capitals) and Tyler Toffoli (LA Kings).
Career Record Holders
Most Games Played: 297 – Lance Galbraith (1996-97 to 2000-01)
Most Goals: 216 – Peter Lee (1971-72 to 1975-76)
Most Assists: 303 – Brett Seguin (1988-89 to 1991-92)
Most Points: 447 – Peter Lee (1971-72 to 1975-76)
Most Penalty Minutes: 960 – Lance Galbraith (1996-97 to 2000-01)
Most Games Played (Goalie): 175 – Jim Ralph (1978-79 to 1981-82)
Most Minutes Played (Goalie): 10,137 – Michel (Bunny) Larocque (1967-68 to 1971-72)
Best Goals-Against-Average: 2.45 – Levente Szuper (1998-99 to 1999-00)
Best Save Percentage: .916 – Levente Szuper (1998-99 to 1999-00)
Most Wins: 80 – Craig Hillier (1994-95 to 1997-98)
Most Shutouts: 13 – Michel (Bunny) Larocque (1967-68 to 1971-72)
Team Records (single season):
Best Winning Percentage: .742 in 1996-97 (49-11-6)
Most Wins: 50 in 1983-84 (50-18-2) (70 game schedule)
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