August 02, 2015

Brian Perry

Brian Perry is another good example of a kid who wouldn't quit even though it appear he would ever get a chance to play in the National Hockey League.

Brian was one of the few players born in Great Britain to have played in the National Hockey League. Born in Aldershot, England where his Canadian father was stationed in the army during World War II, Brian and his family relocated to Kirkland Lake, Ontario when he was just a young boy. He grew up loving to play the game on ice just like so many other Canadian kids. He progressed well enough to have played some junior-B hockey with the Owen Sound Greys, but he was never considered to be a prospect by the National Hockey League scouts.

Brian originally headed to New Glasglow, Nova Scotia where he played senior hockey. The Eastern Hockey League noticed something in his play and soon he was starring with the New Haven Blades, scoring 39 goals and 88 points in 71 games in 1965-66. The American Hockey League's Providence Reds in turn gave Brian an 8 game look in that season. He scored 3 goals and 4 points, enough to encourage the Reds to promote him to hockey's top minor league in 1966.

Brian's play continued to improve while with the Reds. The 5'11" and 180 pound center/left winger scored 23 goals and 53 points in his first full AHL season, and in 1967-68 he emerged with a 31 goal and 69 point season.

Now, perhaps for the first time, the National Hockey League was noticing what Brian could do. It was the Oakland Seals who landed Brian in an intra-league draft in the summer of 1968. He played well in 61 games in his NHL rookie season of 1968-69, scoring 10 goals and 31 points. He also chipped in a goal and an assist in 6 playoff games.

That would prove to be Brian's only full NHL season. Brian would split the 1969-70 season with the Seals and AHL Reds and was left exposed in the 1970 expansion draft.

The Buffalo Sabres claimed Brian in that expansion draft, but aside from one lone-game appearance with the Sabres, he would never appear in the NHL again.

Brian returned to Providence in 1971 but then had an opportunity to return to major league hockey in 1972-73. The New York Raiders of the upstart World Hockey Association offered him a job. He would spend two seasons in the WHA, scoring a total of 33 goals and 64 points in 145 games.

In 1974-75 Brian was demoted to Syracuse of the NAHL, a WHA minor league. By the end of the season he was called up by the San Diego Mariners, which was the renamed and transferred franchise from New York. He played 6 playoff games, scoring 1 goal and 2 assists to finish off his career.

In retirement Brian returned to Kirkland Lake, or more specifically Swastika, Ontario - a tiny rail stop just outside of Kirkland Lake that probably should have considered a new name a long time ago. Brian would first work, like so many others, at the Adams open pit iron ore mine south of town. But soon he bought and operated the Swastika Hotel and the Federal Tavern. Eventually he gave up on the businesses and went to work for Siemens-Westinghouse.

Perry still returns to the frozen lakes in Northern Ontario, but he is no longer terribly interested in hockey. He is an avid fisherman year round, and enjoys the peace a solitude of his ice fishing hut.

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