Komets alumni looking forward to championship reunion weekend
What started out as a 25th anniversary for the 1993 Turner Cup champions has turned into one of the Fort Wayne Komets’ largest celebrations in years.
After Komets Owner Stephen Franke suggested the team honor all nine championship teams, more than 35 former players and their families will come back to Fort Wayne this Saturday and Sunday for a championship team reunion and Komets Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The inductees will be former players Ron Leef and Jim Burton, team “Mom” Ruth Wiegmann and media members Kent Hormann and Dean Pantazi.
And, oh, yeah, the Stanley Cup will be on display Sunday, and there will be a ceremony of Komets legend Chuck Adamson presenting his original goaltending mask to the hall of fame.
Saturday’s game against Cincinnati will include autograph sessions with the legends from the 1963, 1965, 1973, 1993, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 championship teams, and Sunday’s game against Kalamazoo will include the induction ceremony.
To help prepare, News-Sentinel.com reached out to four former players who are coming back this weekend.
Ego won an IHL championship with the Komets in 1973 and an AHL crown with Hershey in 1974 in his last season.
“I`m really looking forward to the weekend to see everyone that can make it,” Ego said. “I haven`t been back to Fort Wayne and haven`t talked to anyone either. Funny how that goes. When you are playing and go home for the summer, you think you will see everyone next winter.”
After retiring, Ego went home to Freelton, Ont., and became a farmer and coach for 26 years. In 1980 Ego and his wife Sharry started Ego Sports Repair for hockey, baseball and football teams. Riddell bought them out in 2000 and hired Ego as manager/salesman. He retired last August. They also started a small construction firm in 1988.
The Egos celebrated 48 years of marriage in November and have a son Kyle and a daughter Katie and have four grandchildren. They recently moved to Port Lambton, Ont.
After scoring 41 goals and 91 points for the 2007-08 Komets, Aquino headed overseas, playing mostly in Italy and Austria over the next eight years before retiring in 2016. This will be his first trip back to Fort Wayne since 2011.
“I am very excited about this trip and I’m excited to bring my wife and son,” he said. “It will be nice to see some of the guys.”
He married his wife Diana in 2015, and they recently had a son Adrian.
“My family and I are excited to come down,” Aquino said. “I am excited to show my 5-month-old son where I won a championship.”
Aquino now works on Toronto as a partner in a private financial firm named Rosewood Wealth Management.
Since he retired in 2011, Curadeau hasn’t been back to Fort Wayne, but this time he’s bringing his 2-year-old son Devan.
“I am really exited about the trip,” Curadeau said. “For me, it’s an opportunity to say goodbye to The Jungle but at the same time to say hi again. I will also have the chance to live this with my son.”
Besides working as a sales rep for East Penn Canada, Curadeau has also become a player agent, staring this own agency, KAM Sports. He hopes to have his first player taken in the NHL draft this summer.
Curadeau said he’s talked with former teammates P.C. Drouin and Olivier Legault since being invited to the reunion.
“I will love to thank the Franke family for bringing me back for the weekend,” he said. “It means a lot to me, and Fort Wayne is the city that gave me the chance to become a champion twice. Those remain the best moments of my life so far.”
After two years with the Komets, winning the 2012 Central Hockey League title, Smith went home and played one season for Brampton before retiring. Then he became a car salesman in his hometown of Guelph.
“To be perfectly honest, I don’t even care for cars but I love the people part of it,” Smith said. “Just two weeks ago, I was promoted to a sales manger so I’m no longer selling, I’m just taking care of my sales team.”
Beside winning another ring in Fort Wayne, Smith also gave one, and he and his wife Kara welcomed Max to their family on Jan. 4, 2017, adding to their four children. They met in Fort Wayne, and still visit her family once or twice a year.
“Kara and I are super-excited about this trip as Fort Wayne as the Komets mean the world to us,” he said. “Not only because it’s where we met but its where we became a family. Of course, I’m also excited because I could not have asked for anything more than winning a championship in a city like Fort Wayne. It was a special year with special teammates and of course the best fans you could ever ask for.
“I would like to thank all the fans in Fort Wayne for all their support over my two years there as they made it feel like home. Fort Wayne will always be in my heart as it provided me with a championship trophy, a championship wife and memories to last a lifetime.”
Komets championship reunion roster
Players who have committed to taking part Friday and Saturday during the Komets championship reunion celebration. The players will be signing autographs during intermissions and will be introduced on the ice.
Player and championship teams
Len Thornson 1963, 1965; Eddie Long 1963, 1965; Chuck Adamson 1963, 1965; Merv Dubchak 1964-65; Chick Balon 1965, 1973; D’Arcy Keating 1973; Don Atchison 1973; Robbie Irons 1973; Colin Chin 1993; Kelly Hurd 1993; Ian Boyce 1993; Guy Dupuis 1993, 2008, 2009, 2010; Steve Fletcher 1993; Pokey Reddick 1993; Troy Neumeier 2003; Tom Lawson 2003; Kevin Schmidt 2003; P.C. Drouin 2008, 2009, 2010; Mathieu Curadeau 2008, 2009; David Hukalo 2008, 2009; Mitch Woods 2008, 2009; Olivier Legault 2008, 2009; Leo Thomas 2009, 2010; Kaleigh Schrock 2010, 2012; Brett Smith 2012; Luciano Acquino 2008; Kevin Bertram 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010; Jamie Lovell 2010; Shawn Dundon 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012; Tim Haun 2010; Justin Hodgman 2008, 2009, 2010; Gary Graham 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012; Joe Franke 1993, 2003, 2012; Grant Richison 1993; Dustin Virag 2003; Nick Boucher 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012.