Komets great Merv Dubchak returning to Fort Wayne this weekend UPDATED
3 p.m. Wednesday: Just found out plans have changed. Carson Dubchak did not make the trip to Fort Wayne with the Mavericks so the rest of the Dubchak family is now not coming this weekend.
The greatest goal scorer in Fort Wayne Komets history hasn’t been back to the Memorial Coliseum since the team’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2002, but Merv Dubchak will be here this weekend.
Dubchak, 77, is coming back to see some former teammates, relive some memories and mainly to watch his grandson Carson Dubchak play for Kansas City. He’s a 5-foot-11, 181-pound rookie right wing for the Mavericks who played five years for Lakehead University, where he was known more for his fists than his wrists.
“He’s a tough little character,” his grandfather said. “He can score goals, but he’s more of a guy who looks after his teammates. He can be tough when he needs to be. We kind of simmered him down a little bit.”
Merv Dubchak rarely simmered down when he played for the Komets from 1963 to 1970 as his goal scoring from right wing was legendary. In 437 games as a Komet over seven seasons, he lit the lamp 345 times to rank third on the team’s all-time list behind Len Thornson’s 465 goals over 12 seasons and Eddie Long’s 459 over 14. Over a three-year period from 1964-65 to 1966-67, Dubchak scored 52, 72 and 52 goals. He finished with 484 games played, 345 goals, 243 assists and 588 points.
In other words, he’d be worth a million dollars today when it’s noteworthy if a top scorer reaches 30 goals in a season.
Dubchak retired in 1970 with a sore wrist and back and went to work for the city in the meter department. Most of the guys he had played with for so long were retired, and it was just time. Four years later he and his wife Beverly moved back to Kenora, Ontario, which is just north of International Falls, Minn., where he worked for LaBatts. They have four kids and seven grandchildren.
Besides his individual records, Dubchak was also part of the two greatest forward lines in team history. The line of Thornson, Dubchak and Jumbo John Goodwin averaged 5.20 points per game in 1966-67, as Thornson scored a team-record 139, Goodwin had 106 and Dubchak 98. The year before, Bobby Rivard scored 133, Dubchak 117 and Goodwin 114 to set International Hockey League records for production.
“I had two very good teammates in Johnny and Bobby, and then I would play on the power play once in a while with Lenny,” Dubchak said from Kenora last week. “We just got accustomed to where we were going and what we were doing. I still give them a lot of credit for what I did. Everything just fell into place.”
Actually, it always fell into the net.
Nobody scores like that any more. It’s a totally different game.
“You have to look at the goalie pads now compared to when Robbie Irons was in net,” Dubchak said. “They have changed the game completely because they cover both the top and the bottom of the net. They’ve got it all covered.
“You also don’t see too many guys get a good slap shot away. There’s no time. It was the best I had. I just wanted to hit the net with it. When you shoot as hard as you can, it came almost regular that you would hit the net or not miss it by very much. A lot of times you got lucky if it hit something and changed directions.”
The other thing Dubchak was known for was his inability to stop when skating toward the net. He’d put his head down and charge and then rely on the boards to end his momentum.
Ironically, the last time the Dubchaks came to town, they brought Carson with them. He was 11 years old.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Dubchak said. “I just want him to play good and have a good time visiting some old friends. It should be fun.”
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Komets who scored 50 goals in a season
* Len Ronson – 1959-60, 62
* Eddie Long – 1962-63, 56
* Merv Dubchak – 1964-65, 52; 1965-66, 72; 1966-67, 52
* Ron Zanussi – 1976-77, 53
* Terry McDougall – 1978-79, 57
* Barry Scully – 1979-80, 61; 1980-81, 69; 1981-82, 60; 1982-83, 57
* Ron Leef – 1982-83, 57
* Wally Schreiber – 1984-85, 51
* Lonnie Loach – 1990-91, 55