Second class of Don Brankley London Knights Hall of Fame enshrined at Budweiser Gardens

There are six new members of the Don Brankley London Knights Hall of Fame.

Former players Gary Unger, Reg Thomas, Brian Bradley, Chris Kelly and Dylan Hunter were inducted on February 11. Former London Knights head scout John McDonald went in as a builder.

The Don Brankley Hall of Fame was created in 2019 to celebrate the best of the best in London Knights history, as well as to honour the memory of London’s legendary trainer.

Brankley was a part of the Knights from 1978 until 2008 and passed away in 2017.

Last year’s inaugural class featured Dennis Maruk, Walt McKechnie, Chris and Tim Taylor, Dave Lowry and Rob Schremp. The selection committee aims to feature a player from each of the decades from the 1960s to the 1990s, and then a player from the 2000s.

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“We are very proud to induct these six individuals into the Don Brankley Hall of Fame this year,” said Knights general manager Mark Hunter.

“Each of these gentlemen played a major role in the organization during their time with the team. We are proud to be able to recognize the achievements of Garry, Reg, Brian, Chris, and Dylan during their junior careers and the contributions of John to the London Knights organization.”

Following the ceremony six new plaques were unveiled commemorating the careers of all six individuals.

The Don Brankley London Knights Hall of Fame can be found on the third level at Budweiser Gardens at the east end of the building.

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Gary Unger

Unger got himself set for a long and successful National Hockey League with a dominant season in London in 1966-67.

He scored 38 goals and rung up 73 points in 48 games. Unger returned for five games the following year and then split the rest of the season between the Tulsa Oilers of the CPHL the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. It was there that he started his iron man streak that saw Unger play 917 consecutive games.

That streak only ended when he was benched by Al MacNeil while playing for the Atlanta Flames in 1979. The record stood until it was broken by Doug Jarvis in the 1980s.

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Reg Thomas

Thomas put up large point totals in three seasons with the London Knights. The London native had 309 points, ranking him 12th of all time in Knights scoring. Thomas then went on to a professional career playing six seasons in the WHA with Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

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When four teams from the WHA merged with the NHL in 1979, Thomas made the jump, and with the Quebec Nordiques, he played three more professional seasons in North America. He then finished his playing career with two years in Austria.

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Brian Bradley

Bradley ranks third all-time in Knights scoring behind Chris Taylor and Corey Perry, having put up 373 points in four seasons in London between 1981-1985. He was a third round pick of the Calgary Flames and made his NHL debut in his first year out of Major Junior.

Bradley played with the Flames, Canucks and Maple Leafs before joining the Tampa Bay Lightning in their inaugural season, where he served as an assistant captain and spent six seasons before retiring at the end of 1997-98.

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Chris Kelly

Kelly joined the Knights in 1997 and was a big part of the team’s upswing that saw them get to Game 7 of the 1999 OHL Championship series against the Belleville Bulls.

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He returned to London for an overage year as Mark and Dale Hunter took over as Knights owners in 2000 and was the Hunters’ first captain. Kelly put up 233 points for the Knights, but was a complete player and leader throughout his OHL career. He spent four years in the minors before getting the full-time call to the NHL with the Ottawa Senators. Kelly won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011.

He returned to Ottawa in 2016-17 and then finished his career in Anaheim. Kelly also played for Canada at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.

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Dylan Hunter

Hunter is fifth in all-time scoring for the London Knights with 269 career points, and he is number one in games played with 315. Hunter joined the Knights in 2001 and became a big part of the core that would win the franchise’s first Memorial Cup in 2005. Hunter then led the Knights back to the OHL Championship series in 2006 as team captain.

A draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres, Hunter played five professional seasons primarily in Rochester and Milwaukee. He returned to the Knights as an assistant coach in 2011 and has been with the team ever since.

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Hunter has also served as an assistant for Team Canada at the 2018 and 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

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John McDonald

McDonald served as the London Knights head scout from the time Dale and Mark Hunter purchased the franchise.

McDonald drafted Mark Hunter first overall when he was with the Brantford Alexanders in 1979. He and Hunter, along with the rest of the London staff, were responsible for drafting the players that made up championship teams.

McDonald pegged players like Dave Bolland as future NHLers long before they would hear their names called at the NHL Draft or step onto National Hockey League ice. He had an eye for talent that extended not just to what a player did as a player but for who he was as a person away from the game.

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