Alumni Profile: Chris Clifford
When Chris Clifford was drafted in the 3rd round, 33rd overall by the Kingston Canadians, it gave him the opportunity to play for his hometown team. He would make the most of that opportunity by providing fans with plenty of memories, as well as setting franchise records that would stand for decades.
At the age of 17, Clifford took over the crease for the Canadians. He won 16 games in his rookie season of 1983-84 which was enough to get drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 6th round of the NHL Entry Draft. When he returned to Kingston for his second season he struggled winning just 15 games. The ‘85-86 season was a bounce back year for Chris as he earned 26 wins and helped the Canadians reach the second round of the playoffs. In his final year he had 18 wins and again reached the second round of the playoffs. His 75 career wins set a franchise record for wins that would stand until the 2017-18 season when Jeremy Helvig broke the record after 31 years.
Chris was ahead of his time as a strong skating and puck handling goaltender. On January 7, 1986 he became the first goaltender in OHL history to score a goal. He also recorded 14 assists during his time with the Canadians. After 4 seasons as a starting goaltender, Chris set a franchise record for appearances with 196, a record that still stands today.
Chris Clifford would only see the ice for 24 minutes in his NHL career with the Blackhawks. He relieved Murray Bannerman for the third period in a game against Buffalo in 1985. He played his final 4 minutes of NHL hockey during the 1988-89 season, again against Buffalo. He never gave up a goal at the NHL level.
Chris spent the majority of his professional career in the IHL or ECHL suiting up for a few different teams along the way. His best professional season came with the Louisville IceHawks of the ECHL when he went 29-19-6 with 3 shutouts. He retired from hockey after the 1993-94 season.
At the end of his playing career Chris returned to his hometown of Kingston, Ontario and attended law school at Queen’s University. He is now a partner at Bergeron Clifford LLP which has multiple locations across Ontario.