Former 67’s goalie Chris Perugini reflects on 67’s career

A month or two following the 2007 OHL Draft, a young goalie received a house call from a legendary coach.

Popping by the Perugini family home was none other than Brian Kilrea, coach and GM of the Ottawa 67’s, there to visit the new member of the Barber Poles family.

Kilrea’s post-draft visits to the newest rounds of OHL prospects were well-known and Chris Perugini, a young goalie from King City, ON, was no exception. But that day a little over a decade ago, Killer arrived with a deal for the then-16-year-old.

“He came over during his road show and made me a promise,” recalls Perugini, who will be back in his old rink Saturday afternoon as the 67’s honour players from the 2007-2017 era. “He said if you make this team as a 16-year-old, you will play the first game in Barrie.”

A good deal for any young goalie, but the kicker there was that not only would it be Perugini’s first OHL start, he would be playing against a Barrie team that featured his brother, Andrew, as its goalie.

“I made the team and, sure enough, Killer kept his word,” he said. “I ended up playing against my brother that night.”

That first start would also wind up being the younger Perugini brother’s first OHL win as Chris stopped 28 of 32 shots to backstop Ottawa to a 5-4 win.

And so began Perugini’s Ottawa 67’s career, one that would see him play 122 games for the club after getting into an impressive 24 games as a rookie that first year. He looks back fondly on his time with the club and the experience of being coached by Kilrea, who retired from behind the bench following Perugini’s second year in which he posted a 27-10-5 record.

“It was incredible being able to play for an organization like that,” said Perugini. “I was really fortunate that Killer let me play a lot of games when I was young, which was huge for my career and my development.

“He’s a man of his word. He could be tough, but he made you accountable. If you acted like a pro,  you always knew what to expect.”

From top to bottom – from the fans, to the accommodation, to the food – Perugini said the experience was “first class” throughout his time in Ottawa. He still visits the city every year and remains in touch with his former billet family.

Looking back on it, Perugini said it’s tough to pinpoint one particular highlight but said the group of guys he got to play with – including future NHLers like Logan Couture, Tyler Toffoli, Cody Ceci, Tyler Graovac and Sean Monahan among them – made the entire experience of playing in Ottawa an unforgettable one.

“That group of guys, getting to play with them was pretty special,” he said.

Perugini and fellow alumni from the 2007-2017 era, including Shayne Campbell, Corey Cowick, Mathieu Methot, Thomas Nesbitt and Patrick White, will help celebrate the 67’s 50th Anniversary season on Saturday as the team takes on the Oshawa Generals (2 p.m.).

Tickets – Saturday @ 2PM vs. Oshawa

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