AMHERST – A piece of Amherst’s hockey heritage has died.
Lou Kiley, who was a player and coach with the Amherst Senior Ramblers during their heyday in the 1950s and early 1960s, passed away in Saint John late last week.
“He was a no nonsense player, every game and every shift he had the same attitude. He was so serious and expected everyone to play the same way he played,” former teammate and friend Norman ‘Red’ Mullins said Tuesday. “There was no clowning around when he was there. He was the real leader of the team.”
A native of Saint John, Kiley played three seasons with the Ramblers, starting in 1954, before leaving for Bathurst, N.B. after the former Bailey Arena burned to the ground and the team was left homeless.
He returned to Amherst and was a key member of the 1959-60 and 1960-61 Senior Rambler teams that won the Maritime Senior Hockey League championship and went on to the Allan Cup qualifiers.
Kiley played with the Moncton Hawks when Amherst folded and later moved on to New Glasgow, where he operated a car dealership and other businesses, until he returned to Saint John later in life.
His career also featured stops in junior hockey in both Saint John and Quebec City in 1948 and Three Rivers, Que. the following season, before playing senior in Shawinigan Falls, Que. He also played with the Boston Olympias and the Charlottetown Islanders.
He had a tryout with the New York Rangers and played with some future Montreal Canadiens’ greats like Jean-Guy Talbot and faced off against Jean Belliveau and Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion.
Dave Kiley said his cousin was a fierce competitor and a top-notch defenceman.
“He was one of the best,” he said. “He was as tough as they make them and he was a battler. He never backed down from anyone.”
He said he played a style of hockey you don’t see much of anymore.
“He was tough and mean, but he had respect for the opposing players. He went out there to play a hard game of hockey, but he didn’t go out to try to hurt anyone,” he said.
Doug Polley was a young player when he joined the Senior Ramblers during their championship runs. He travelled to games with Kiley and got to know him very well.
“He was a good hockey player,” he said. “He was very smart and was a great passer. He never gave the puck away.”
Curry Gould, who played with the Amherst St. Pats, remembers watching Kiley play. He said he became a fan favourite because he was not afraid to drop the gloves to protect a teammate or change the momentum of a game.
“He’d scrap with anyone. He didn’t go looking for it, but he would take on anyone,” Gould said. “Sometimes people overlook the fact that he was a heck of a defenceman. He was great on the power play.”
Kiley was inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and is in the Saint John Hall of Fame, while the Senior Ramblers were inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
When he was inducted into the New Brunswick Hall, a news release quoted Moncton hockey great Oscar Gaudet as calling him “a general on the ice. Opponents feared him because of his rugged style of play; teammates respected him because of his intensity and knowledge of the game. He made everyone on the team a better player.”
Kiley, 82, is survived by his wife, Gail; son, Michael; and daughter, Luanne; of Amherst. Four grandsons, a brother and a sister also survive him.
The family would appreciate donations to the palliative care unit at the Saint John Regional Hospital.