Rick Brebant was the second player (after fellow Hall of Famer Tony Hand) to score more than 1,000 goals at the highest level in Britain. He passed the magic milestone in season 2002-03 in just over 800 games in official major competitions. He was also capped for Great Britain.
After his final season in 2003-04 as player-coach of Manchester Phoenix in the Elite League, the stocky 40-year-old brought his final tally to 1,044 goals and 2,498 points after 17 seasons in the Elite League, the British League’s Premier Division and the Superleague. He might have played on longer but for a shoulder injury.
Rick’s fierce competitive streak was a major influence on the success of the eight teams in Cardiff and England on which he appeared. Altogether they won seven play-off championships, seven league titles and six cups.
Two of them – Durham Wasps and Sheffield Steelers – won the Grand Slam. He spent four years with the Steelers, winning eight trophies, in the most consistent spell of success of any British club in that era.
Tenacious and tireless, he led the league in points three times and topped the play-off scoring twice. In his second season with the Wasps, 1988-89, his 146 goals were the most of any player in the British League’s Premier Division. He appeared on five All-Star teams and was voted Player of the Year in 1990-91 by the sport’s journalists.
In a rare bad move, in season 1995-96 he agreed to become player-coach-manager with Sir John Hall’s ill-fated venture into ice hockey, first with the Wasps then two seasons with Newcastle Cobras in the Superleague. “It was a job I should never have taken,” he admitted. “I took on too much.”
In 1999-2000 he was a member of two Superleague clubs, Kurt Kleinendorst’s Manchester Storm and Chris McSorley’s London Knights. The coaches had a history of rivalry in North America and when Brebant scored the winning penalty shot for the Storm in the Benson & Hedges Cup final against the Knights, McSorley snapped him up for the rest of the season.
Mike Blaisdell, his coach at Nottingham and Sheffield and a team-mate at Durham, said: “He’s one of the most intense guys I’ve ever come across. I’ve always respected the way he’s the first on the puck. It doesn’t matter if the biggest guy in the league is coming into the corner to kill him, he’ll go in every time.”
After the Canada-born, left-shooting forward acquired a British passport, he was capped 32 times for his adopted country between 1994 and 2002, scoring ten goals and 23 points in five World Championships, one Championship qualifying series, and an Olympic qualifying competition.
The 1994 World A Pool games was one of his personal career highlights. “My favourite goal was a short-handed one for GB against Canada’s NHL goalie,” he recalled.
Richard Joseph Brebant was born in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada on 21 February 1964. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.