Monday, September 5, 2016

Fort Wayne Komets (IHL, 1969-70)

1969-70 Regular Season
Komets vs. Toledo Blades
     The Komets were in their 18th year of play in the International Hockey League, one of the oldest and most stable franchises in that circuit. Owned by a group headed by Colin Lister, the Komets were lead by Vice President/GM Ken Ullyot and Head Coach Moe Bartoli. The team played it's home games at Memorial Coliseum, which they still do to this day.
     Fort Wayne had a rough season in '69-70, finishing with a dismal 26-38-8 record. Their 60 points were just six ahead of the expansion Flint Generals for the final playoff spot in the North, and a whopping 40 behind league-best Muskegon. Veteran center Ray Brunel, in his only season with the team,  led the Komets in scoring, with 33 goals and 88 points. Brunel was joined in the 30-goal club by left winger Bob Baird and right winger Merv Dubchak. A player of note on the 1969-70 Komets was right winger Ron Ullyot. After a stint at Michigan, Ullyot played several seasons in Fort Wayne, including the 1972-73 Turner Cup championship team. After his playing days, Ullyot had a long coaching career, with stops in Port Huron, Fort Worth, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In 1969-70, Ullyot had 13 goals and 30 points in 43 games.  As a team, the Komets scored just 241 goals, better than only Flint.
1969-70 Regular Season
Komets vs. Columbus Checkers
     Fort Wayne was much better on defense that year. Though employing four different goaltenders that year, Bartoli relied on former Michigan Wolverine Jim Keough and Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Paul Hoganson. Both netminders played in over 30 games that season. As a team, the Komets allowed 266 goals, the third-fewest in the IHL.
     The Komets were able to grab the final playoff berth in the North Division. Since Muskegon earned a first round bye, Fort Wayne's opponent would be the second-place Port Huron Flags. The Flags, coached by Ted Garvin, had a solid 37-28-7 record, and their 81 points were second-highest in the IHL. The series was a best-of-five format, and the Flags swept aside the Komets in three straight, outscoring them 14-8 in the process. Port Huron would then knock off the Des Moines Oak Leafs in five games (best-of-five) in the semifinals before falling to the Dayton Gems in the Turner Cup Finals in seven games.
1969-70 Regular Season
Komets vs. Toledo Blades
     The green program at the top of this post is the first one I got from this season. I purchased all of them online over the years. As you can see, the programs from the 1969-70 season have the same format, just a different color and different picture. The background image is the same, and each have virtually the same information inside. Each are 26 pages long, all in black-and-white. Pepsi-Cola is the sponsor for the roster sheets. 
     There are a few differences though. Each program has a different article written by Treasurer Colin Lister. These articles give information about the upcoming game, the injury status of players and upcoming events.      Other than Lister's article, most of the pages are the same in each program. The IHL's major trophies, including the Turner Cup, are pictured and written about in separate pages. The 1968-69 Komets team photo is included on Page 5. Other team photos include the 1969-70 Fort Wayne "Pepsi Komets" and the 1968-69 Fort Wayne "Midget Komets", who were coached by Lister and were the "National Runners-Up" that year. Each IHL team had a paragraph dedicated to them on various pages. The Komet home and road schedules are featured on page 8.
     Despite being only 26 pages long, these programs are loaded with advertisements.
19689-70 Regular Season
Komets vs. Port Huron Flags
Inside the back cover is an ad for a Maganavox "Total Automatic TV" set. This color set included automatic tint control and fine tuning, as well as an 82-channel remote control. If you were interested, this TV would set you back a bit, costing about $650. Adjusted for inflation, that would cost you just over $4,000 in today's world! 
     Other ads include Marhoefer's Happy Wieners (actual name), who also featured Sporkee Bacon and lunch meats. The Indiana Bus Company has a half-page ad which proclaims they were the "Official Komet Carriers the Past Nine Years". Former Komets in business included Len Thornson and  State Farm Insurance Agency as well as Hartley McLeod of Hughie's Mobile Home Sales. Ted and Tom's Restaurant, Meadow Gold and Bill Hefner's Chevrolet Plaza are included as well.

Aftermath: Bartoli retired as a player after the 1969-70 season. After one year in the college ranks, he returned to the IHL with the Columbus Golden Seals. He remained with the Seals (later the Owls) throughout their time in Columbus until their move to Dayton in 1977. Bartoli was replaced in Fort Wayne by Marc Boileau, who led the team to the 1973 Turner Cup. 

IHL Statistics: 1969-70 (from
1969-70 Fort Wayne Komets Program

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