Ralph Keller was a stalwart defenseman who played parts of 13 seasons in the American Hockey League, becoming a popular and legendary figure thanks to his time with the Hershey Bears.
A native of Wilkie, Sask., Keller had a stint with the Providence Reds in 1957-58 and spent a season with the Baltimore Clippers in 1962-63, but spent the final 11 years of his career in Hershey, where he was one of the AHL’s top two-way defensemen of his time. He helped the Bears reach the Calder Cup Finals in 1965, and reached double digits in goals and triple digits in penalty minutes in both 1966-67 and 1967-68 as Hershey won Eastern Division titles.
In 1968-69, Keller racked up 55 points in 74 games and was named a First Team AHL All-Star, then helped the Bears capture the Calder Cup championship. During the 1970-71 season, Keller broke the AHL record for career goals by a defenseman, and in 1972-73 he was named captain of the Bears and earned a spot on the AHL’s Second All-Star Team.
Finishing his playing career in 1973-74, Keller notched eight goals, 31 points and 99 penalty minutes in 74 games during the regular season, and later scored the game-winning goal that clinched the 1974 Calder Cup for Hershey.
His number 3 retired by the Bears, Keller is Hershey’s all-time leader in games played (737) and points (408) by a defenseman. To this day, he still ranks fourth among all AHL defensemen in scoring with 446 points, and is one of five blueliners in league history to score at least 100 goals (111).