Robert A. Kullen '71

Robert A. Kullen '71

The 1970-71 Bowdoin College hockey season was magical. A 19-4-1 overall record and a 16-2-0 mark in ECAC Division II play climaxed with a first-ever ECAC Championship in a legendary 5-4 overtime victory against the University of Vermont. Although Bob Kullen only scored one goal that year, it was his leadership and inner strength that carried his team to the crown. It was that same character that carried him later in life as he exhibited tremendous courage in the face of daunting odds.

One of the most decorated players in the history of Bowdoin hockey, Bob Kullen was a quiet superstar and an inspirational leader on and off the ice. A hard-nosed defenseman and co-captain his senior season, Kullen set new school records for most assists in a single season (21) and most assists in a three-year varsity career (45) by a defenseman.

Kullen captured All-American honors and the Joseph Tomasello Award for being the "Unsung Hero of New England Hockey" his senior year. In addition, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the ECAC Championship game victory over Vermont and made ECAC All-East that same year.

After graduating from Bowdoin he finished his playing career with the Braintree Hawks of the New England Hockey League. In 1973 Kullen began his coaching tenure at Lawrence Academy and in 1977 was hired as a graduate assistant to legendary coach Charlie Holt. When Holt retired in 1986, Kullen was tabbed as his successor. In the spring of 1987, after one season behind the bench, Kullen was sidelined with a rare form of heart disease. He received a heart transplant and aspired to return to coaching, often showing up at practices before returning for the 1988-89 season. His health forced him to step down again after a 17-17-5 season - New Hampshire's best mark in almost a decade.

Kullen passed away in November 1990, and his peers subsequently recognized his generosity, commitment, and dedication to the game of hockey by naming the Hockey East Coach of the Year Award in his honor. In 1991, Kullen's #19 became the first uniform number to be retired in the history of Bowdoin athletics.

A Dean's List student, the Milton, Massachusetts, native graduated from Bowdoin with a degree in history. In December 1987 - on the 19th of the month, in recognition of his uniform number at Bowdoin - he was wed to the former Catherine Derrick. Catherine Kullen Leach now lives in Durham, New Hampshire.