Brad Pirie

Composite sketch including a head shot of Brad Pirie, and three hockey players in the foreground.

Portrait by Robert Howson

Born in Guelph in 1955, Brad Pirie was a gifted offensive defenceman that enjoyed a very successful career in hockey – one that would take him around the world. He played all his minor hockey in the Royal City before being drafted by the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League. Playing for the legendary Roger Neilson between 1972 and 1976, Pirie amassed 53 goals and 118 points. In 1974 the Petes were selected to represent Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships in the Soviet Union, winning a bronze medal.

Pirie then played for the Bud Folusewych coached Guelph Gryphons where he was an OUAA All-Star and All-Canadian in each of his three seasons. He still holds the Gryphon record for assists by a defenseman and was inducted into the University of Guelph Sports Hall of Fame in 1984. Between his third and fourth season at Guelph, he played a year professionally in The Netherlands. Through these years the journey to the Lake Placid Olympics was unfolding. “It was a two-year process with training camps and exhibition games spread out over two years,” said Pirie. “We started with 40 or 50 players but knew only 20 were going so I was so happy I was one of the lucky ones.”

Under the management of the late Father Bauer, Team Canada held their own before losing a crucial game to Finland. In order to make the medal round it came down to a contest against the all-powerful Soviet Union. Canada jumped out to a surprising 2-1 lead, then Pirie stole the puck inside the blue line and scored on a slapshot beating the legendary Vladislav Tretiak to put the home side up 3-1. Canadians everywhere celebrated. But in the end the Soviets were too much downing the Canadians 6-4.

Despite the tough loss, Pirie reflects on his Olympic experience with great pride. “When we walked into the opening ceremony the American people went absolutely crazy for us,” he recalls. “Canadian diplomat, Ken Taylor, had just snuck several Americans out of Iran so they were showing their appreciation to Canadians. It was a special moment.”

Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Athlete category – on May 22, 2022