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Canadian Press
Feb 2, 2007, 10:43 PM EST


OTTAWA (CP) - It turned out to be a closer affair than Brian Kilrea may have liked, but his Ottawa 67's came through with a victory for their Hall-of-Fame coach in his 2,000th game behind the bench.

Jakub Vojta scored a power-play goal at 3:29 of overtime Friday night to lead Kilrea's 67's to a 4-3 Ontario Hockey League victory over the Toronto-St. Michael's Majors on a milestone night for the 72-year-old, who became the first coach in major junior history to reach 2,000 games.

The Ottawa native was honoured with a 20-minute pre-game ceremony that featured several former players and NHL executives, plus an appearance by Don Cherry and Ron MacLean of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.

Jamie McGinn scored twice and added an assist and Logan Couture had a goal and an assist for Ottawa (22-23-0-2), which made things a little too close for Kilrea's liking by blowing a 3-1 third-period lead.

Swiss rookie Lukas Flueler made 21 saves in goal for the 67's.

Kilrea, junior hockey's all-time winningest coach, saw his record improve to 1,116 wins and 705 losses with 153 ties, 18 overtime defeats and eight shootout losses.

Scotty Bowman, 74, who's now a consultant with the Detroit Red Wings, was behind the bench for a record 2,141 games at the NHL level, winning 1,244 of them, but Kilrea has done it all with the same team.

The 67's likely couldn't have picked a better opponent for the celebrations. The Majors (14-32-2-1) came into the game burdened by a 12-game losing skid, but they made things interesting with the third-period comeback.

Couture had started things off on the right foot by directing a cross-ice pass from McGinn past Savage, who finished with 42 saves, just 62 seconds after the sold-out crowd of 9,862 at Ottawa's Civic Centre had settled into their seats following the pre-game presentation.

But Matt Caria, who had goal and an assist, and Cassidy Preston and Jesse Messier eventually scored for the Majors to salvage at least a point.

The 67's players took to the ice for warm-ups wearing their traditional red-black-and-white barber-pole sweaters, each emblazoned with the name Kilrea and No. 67 on the back. Inside the numbers the 67's were a portrait of Kilrea and the team's logo.

More than 60 former players, including nine from Kilrea's inaugural 1974-75 team, were supposed to be in attendance.

Cherry and MacLean opened the night with a taped message before appearing in person to kick things off.

A video tribute to Kilrea featured several taped messages from past players who've moved on to the NHL ranks and couldn't be in attendance, along with one from Canadian songstress Anne Murray, a longtime favourite on Kilrea's bus trips.

Earlier this week, ex-67's star-turned-Los Angeles Kings broadcaster Jim Fox said in an interview from Calgary: "It is incredible. You think back, the one thing he wanted was for his players was to have fun.

"Two thousand games later, he still finds a way to make it fun. I saw him on Hockey Night in Canada (last Saturday) and he still looks good. Another 1,000 more."

Kilrea took centre ice to a standing ovation for the ceremonial opening faceoff, where he, Cherry and MacLean were joined by 67's owner Jeff Hunt and Canadian Hockey League president and OHL commissioner David Branch.

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Yeah. I heard about this yesterday on the radio. Congrats to him on his 2000th career game, and winning it too. ;)
 
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