Brant Kiessig wasn’t playing organized hockey when he snuck onto the ice on a cold night when a bantam team was practising outside. He was invited to join them, promptly led the squad in scoring and became a junior prospect.
A natural talent, the Thunder Bay product was soon invited to camp with Brandon, and after a year with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Brandon Travellers, graduated full time to the Wheat Kings in 1978-79.
The muscular 18-year-old responded to the opportunity by scoring 29 goals and providing an invaluable presence penalty killing.
He returned for the 1979-80 season, and was dealt to the Medicine Hat Tigers, where he scored 35 goals in 51 games.
After a short pro hockey career, he became a firefighter back home in Thunder Bay. He is now retired.
TIM LOCKRIDGE: "Brant was built like a brick s—house to start with. He was square. He was just a strong guy. I think him and Gussy were buddies. He was happy to be there and just went with the flow. He was a real easy-going guy."
GREGG DRINNAN (Brandon Sun): "There’s not much doubt that he was the most chiselled player on that team, and that was before the gym was as popular as it is now. The gym certainly wasn’t the place to hang out in the off-season in those days but he certainly did. I imagine he would have been the strongest guy on that team, although Lockridge just on natural strength might have been right there … He was another big, strong quiet type who was very effective … Brant was great along the wall, a great penalty killer and if you gave him a regular shift, he was going to get you 20 goals."
STEPHEN PATRICK: "Brant had the big pipes on him. He was into music and played guitar. I know he was a fireman. They traded him the second year and I think he scored 40 goals with Medicine Hat. He and Gussy killed penalties in my first year and did a real good job. He was real strong but real quiet. He was a good hockey player."
LAURIE BOSCHMAN: "Brant was very solid in his build. He was an aggressive player, played a key role in that year for us and was a valuable part of that team."
KELLY McCRIMMON: "Brant was a really good player … He was from Thunder Bay and that can’t happen in this era because he would have been property of Ontario. He was really big and strong, a really good skater, a really good two-way forward and an important guy."
MIKE PEROVICH: "(Brant) was like Hercules. He was ripped … He was a nice kid, quiet, unassuming."
WES COULSON: "(Brant) was a stocky built guy, a strong kid, and you kind of forget he scored 29 goals, which was an amazing feat for a guy who didn’t get a lot of ice time. I don’t remember him playing big minutes but he contributed every time he got on the ice."
DAVE STEWART: "Kiesser didn’t have a lot of stick-handling talent, he was more of a grinder too. He was one of those guys you wanted in front of the net all the time. He was a tough bugger too. He was underrated. He was almost like a bodybuilder when he came. You didn’t see that very much back then."
DON GILLEN: "(Brant) was a very strong guy, a very good person. He was a gamer. He was there in the toughest of games."
DAVE CHARTIER: "If you hit Brant, you were going to get hurt. I never saw a body so square. I don’t how he got it and how much he worked at it but he was a big strong kid, and obviously he was a big part … He was a stud. He was a good player."
RICK KNICKLE: "There’s a guy who was really deceiving on the ice when you watched Brant play because he looked stiff. But the guy could shoot the puck and was very valuable in big games with the third and fourth line assets he brings to a team. He was a pretty quiet guy … but a really good guy. He was a tough nut too. Any time we had any brawls, his eyes lit up so we were ‘OK, he likes this stuff.’ He really didn’t play that way. He was an honest player, he hit guys hard and was a really solid guy. He was another unsung guy."
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