The 2nd Peoria Rivermen Alumni Face-Off

The Peoria Rivermen Alumni Association is proud to announce The 2nd Peoria Rivermen Alumni Face-Off get together! The Peoria Rivermen Alumni Association (PRAA) is proud to welcome key note speaker Chris “Knuckles” Nilan to the 2nd annual Alumni Face-Off.  The PRAA is 501 (c) (3) non-for profit organization that was established to help give back to the hockey community, provide scholarships for deserving High School hockey players and players helping players.  Over the past 3 years, the PRAA has given back over $20,000 to the hockey community.  One of our main fundraisers is our annual Face-Off.  This year’s guest speaker is no stranger to public appearances.  He has been a strong advocate in schools as he talks about school bullying.  Please join us and welcome long time NHL enforcer Chris “Knuckles” Nilan to Peoria.

Where: Lariat Steakhouse (Peoria, IL)
When: Thursday, August 15th
Time: 5pm – 9pm
Ticket Price: $60 per ticket, $600 for a table of 10
Dress Attire: Business Casual
Dinner includes: Filet Mignon, Salmon, Vegetables, Rice Pilaf, Salad, Creme Brule, Ice Tea / Water (Cash Bar Available)


If you would like to register for the Alumni Face-Off, please provide us with a phone number to contact you at. Thank you!

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Chris “Knuckles” NilanKelly Chase

Christopher John Nilan earned every minute of the 688 NHL regular season games he played patrolling the right-wing for the Montreal Canadians, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. Fiercely loyal to his teammates and his club, Chris answered the call every time, racking up over 3,000 penalty minutes during his pro career, many of them earned against some of the toughest players the NHL has ever seen. For an Irish kid from the streets of West Roxbury, near Boston, Massachusetts, where the Irish settled scores with their fists, there was no other way. Chris learned one important lesson early on: whatever happens, never back down, never stay down. The lesson stuck.

Growing up, Chris played his youth hockey with the Parkway team of the Greater Boston Youth Hockey League (GBYHL). He loved the Big Bad Bruins of that era and idolized hockey legends Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Wayne Cashman, Derek Sanderson and Gerry Cheevers. Chris knew he wanted to live the same dream. The fact that he would do anything to make it happen became clear later on when he was playing college hockey for the Northeastern University Huskies, and then pro with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs of the AHL, where he scored 15 goals and had 304 penalty minutes in only 49 games.

Nilan was selected 231st overall by the Canadians in the 1978 NHL Amateur Entry Draft.
Nilan was always considered a long-shot to make the NHL, but he knew how to play on the edge, knew how to take care of his teammates and showed that he was willing to fight for his team if he had to. Chris knew this was what got him to the NHL, and he knew it was what would keep him there

The fans in Montreal loved Chris because everyone knew he had the CH stamped on his heart. He was an enforcer, the team’s protector, did the dirty work in the trenches, and he could score. You don’t play 8 pro seasons with the NHL’s most storied club and win a Stanley Cup along the way just because you think you’re tough and like to fight. You have to earn it. You have to be there night in night out for every game and every minute. You also have to play. Nilan scored a career-high 21 goals with the Canadians in 1984-85 and he scored 19 more the following season when the Canadians won their 23rd Stanley Cup.

Like so many of his friends from the era, Chris has had his challenges since leaving the game. He’s been trying to figure out who he would be after the lime light of the show faded away. He’s been knocked down more than a few times but true to form he hasn’t stayed down. He’s taking another run at life – spend a few minutes on this website to see how.