Which leads to a funny story

Lionel Repka

The Komets played without forward Artur Tyanulin on Saturday night because he was traveling on an expired passport and was unable to get into Canada.

There have been plenty of odd stories over the years with the Komets crossing the border under odd circumstances, including hiding players in overhead bins or under the bus with the equipment.

One of the funniest happened during the 1960s and involved some tangerines, as Bob Chase told in “Live from Radio Rinkside” about Lionel Repka.

“Being a Canadian, Lionel was a big fan of tangerines which were a big Christmas favorite in Canada. Lionel had a friend over in Chatham which was in the league at the time. So Lionel convinced his buddy to get him a crate of tangerines, and he paid for them at the rink before the game and then he put them behind the last seat in the bus to come home. So we’re on the way home and we stop at the border. The customs guy gets on the bus, the same guy who saw us on the way up, and he said, “How’d you do guys, win or lose? Anybody buy anything.” So he walks all the way down the aisle to the back of the bus, bends over to look and comes back to the front and we’re all going, “Oh, no.” Tangerines are totally illegal to bring into this country as foreign fruit. We’re thinking, “Oh, brother, here it goes.” He comes to the front and says, “Merry Christmas, guys,” and gets off. Everybody breathes a big sigh of relief. So Lionel used to wear blinders so he could go to sleep at night on the bus because he might have appointments in the morning or whatever (He sold insurance). He goes to sleep and all of a sudden I can smell orange peels. The guys are in the back of the bus, they got into the crate and they are taking the peels and throwing them on Lionel. Pretty soon Lionel can smell it and he wakes up and he’s on the back of that bus like a raging bull. He is really, really mad. Well, the joke was on Lionel because the reason the customs guy let us go and Lionel didn’t know it until he went back there was they were Florida Oranges. His buddy had taken him, telling him he had sold him tangerines. Here’s Lionel trying to sell oranges by the bagful on the bus on the way home.”