RICK KELLY: Once a Culliton

This week we highlight former Culliton Rick Kelly who played 94 games between the 1981-1982 and 1984-1985 seasons, earning 166 points during that time.
RICK KELLY, Stratford Cullitons #9
1981-82, 1982-83, 1983-84, 1984-85

When I was a young minor hockey player in Stratford everything in the city was connected to the Stratford Cullitons. Wether you were a cab driver a restaurant owner a factory worker, police officer , teacher , whatever , you knew who won the game Friday night, who scored or fought and chances are you were there to see it. My first idol as a young player was Frank Barth and then as I got older was Ken Chisholm. Chizz was unreal and such an honest, tough, and complete team player. I still feel today that if it weren’t for shoulder surgeries at a young age he would have played in the NHL.

Getting called up to play in the playoffs in 80-81 from the Kroehler Major Midgets was unbelievable. My first game was to be on a Friday at home against the Kitchener Rangers. I remember how nervous I was I can still picture the red dressing room carpet and red stalls. When I walked in for the first time that night seeing “ Kelly” 9 on my stall is such a fond and proud moment in my life. As Tommy Nigro got me equipment piece by piece out of the back room handed me a couple Louisville sticks to be sawed off I truly felt like I was in the NHL. Even the one piece underwear with #9 on them seemed cool. As I sat there with my skate laces loose just about to tighten up for warmups, Dinny came storming into the room from the office and began grilling Brad Walsh about my Midget Game the night before.

Walshy , a steady stay at home D-Man was also the referee who kicked me out of out Midget game the night before for fighting. I was suspended for 1 game of OHA hockey! Jr. or otherwise. Wow ! I did get to play the next night in Kitchener, and the rest of the way to the Ontario Finals which we lost to Burlington but that was a pretty tough nite for me for sure. 

My best memories playing for sure were all in 82-83 on a line with Mark Maue and Dave Simpson. We really had some chemistry and scored some big goals all year and in the playoffs. Playing with Maue in particular was a treat. It was like having Rick Vaive on the right wing. Playing in Stratford in the playoffs with a sold out Allman arena was very special. I’ve played in front of 10,000 in pro hockey and coached in front of 12,000 at the Quebec Peewee World Championships, but nothing will compare to the Allman sold out for Friday night playoff Cully games.