The Canadian Hockey League announced today the coaching and support staffs for the 2022 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game to be held at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday, March 23.
Behind the bench are TSN OverDrive’s Jeff “O-Dog” O’Neill alongside Al’s Brother, CHL legend Brian Kilrea, plus Guelph Storm head coach George Burnett as well as equipment manager Jake McKercher and athletic therapist Brie Donelson. Coaching the opposing team are TSN OverDrive’s Jamie “Noodles” McLennan alongside OverDrive co-host Bryan Hayes, Kitchener Rangers alumnus and Memorial Cup champion Derek Roy, plus Rangers head coach Mike McKenzie as well as equipment manager Dan Lebold and athletic therapist Cory Birk.
O’Neill, the former NHLer turned hockey analyst, spent more than 800 career games with the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs. Chosen first overall by the Storm in the 1992 OHL Priority Selection, O’Neill skated three seasons with the club, amassing 120 goals and 209 assists for 329 points in 188 games. In 1992-93, O’Neill was named the OHL Rookie of the Year after registering 79 points in 65 games, helping him to earn a spot on the CHL All-Rookie Team. The following season, the King City, Ont., native led the Storm in scoring with 126 points in 66 appearances and was recognized with the CHL’s Top Draft Prospect Award before being selected fifth overall by the Whalers in the 1994 NHL Draft. Returning to Guelph for 1994-95, O’Neill finished fourth in OHL scoring with 124 points in 57 games to earn a spot on the CHL Second All-Star Team.
Al’s Brother, also known as Michael DiStefano, is a graduate of Western University and Centennial College and can be heard sharing his expertise of the Toronto Maple Leafs as well as NHL Draft prospects as part of the OverDrive crew and as co-host of TSN’s Leafs Lunch.
Kilrea, the winningest coach in CHL history, spent more than 30 years in hockey operations roles with the Ottawa 67’s. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2003, Kilrea’s resume counts more than 2,100 regular season games, nearly 1,200 wins, two Memorial Cup titles, and five-time OHL Coach of the Year recognition. In 1996-97, the Ottawa native was also named the CHL Coach of the Year. The trophy was later rededicated as the Brian Kilrea Award.
Burnett, a two-time OHL Coach of the Year, has spent nearly three decades behind the bench and is currently in his fourth season as general manager and head coach of the Storm. A native of Port Perry, Ont., Burnett’s coaching career beyond Guelph has counted stops with the Niagara Falls Thunder, Oshawa Generals, as well as the Belleville Bulls/Hamilton Bulldogs franchise. Burnett has twice guided the Storm to the J. Ross Robertson Cup.
McLennan, the former longtime NHL goaltender, had a decorated career that counted more than 250 career appearances, underscored by the 1997-98 campaign when he was presented with the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in recognition of dedication to hockey. Beginning his junior career with the Spokane Chiefs in 1988-89, McLennan later joined the Lethbridge Hurricanes, highlighted by his third season where he posted a 32-18-4 record alongside an .886 save percentage and 3.81 goals-against average to claim the Del Wilson Trophy as the WHL’s Goaltender of the Year. The 1990-91 season also saw McLennan named to the WHL’s Eastern Conference First All-Star Team after helping the Hurricanes advance to the WHL Championship Series. McLennan was selected 48th overall by the New York Islanders in the 1991 NHL Draft.
Hayes, a veteran TSN personality and the longtime co-host of OverDrive, is a former junior hockey defenceman. Hayes spent part of two seasons with the Barrie Colts and Sarnia Sting from 2000-02, totaling 55 games.
Roy, who skated four seasons with the Rangers from 1999-2003, registered 147 goals and 188 assists for 335 points over 242 career contests. Originally chosen 24th overall by Kitchener in the 1999 OHL Priority Selection, Roy debuted with the club that fall where through 66 appearances he notched 87 points to claim OHL Rookie of the Year honours and earn a spot on the CHL All-Rookie Team. The following season, Roy participated in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Calgary where he recorded one goal and one assist to be named Player of the Game for Team Cherry. Roy was later selected 32nd overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2001 NHL Draft. In 2002-03, Roy as captain led the Rangers to a Memorial Cup championship, beginning with a dominant playoff showing in which he tallied 32 points in 21 games to claim the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as the OHL playoff MVP. Roy’s heroics were again shown at the Memorial Cup where he posted four points in as many games and was awarded the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as MVP in addition to a spot on the Memorial Cup All-Star Team. Roy later went on to a decorated professional career that counted more than 700 NHL games.
McKenzie, serving in his second season as head coach of the Rangers, originally joined the franchise in 2012 as an assistant coach. After three seasons, he also assumed the assistant general manager duties and, in 2017, was appointed general manager. Originally chosen by the Saginaw Spirit in the 2002 OHL Priority Selection, McKenzie later went on to a professional career that counted more than 100 regular season games played in the AHL and ECHL.
With a majority of tickets for the 2022 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game already sold and in anticipation of 100 percent seating capacity, fans are encouraged to get their tickets now online at kwtickets.ca, by telephone at 1-800-265-8977 or 519-578-1570, or at the box offices at the Centre In the Square at 101 Queen St. N., Kitchener (Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by telephone only, to arrange in-person purchases during these hours email email@example.com), and the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium at 400 East Ave., Kitchener (Game Days, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., or call 519-741-2699 to arrange in-person purchases during business hours on other weekdays). Digital tickets for the originally scheduled date will automatically update. Printed tickets will be honoured for the rescheduled game.
The 2022 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game airs live from the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium on TSN, TSN.ca, the TSN app, and RDS on Wednesday, Mar. 23 at 8 p.m. Eastern. For more information, visit kubotatopprospects.ca.