FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Fort Wayne Komet legend defenseman Lionel Repka passed away Monday night in Fort Wayne from liver cancer at age 80.
The Vilma, Alberta native, affectionately nicknamed “Choo Choo” during his career in Fort Wayne, played 11 seasons with the Komets from 1958-59 through 1968-69. He was a two-time IHL Turner Cup Champion with Fort Wayne. Once in 1963 and coincidentally 50 years ago on April 27, 1965. Repka was named to the All-IHL Team in 1960, 1964 and 1965. He was awarded the IHL’s Governors’ Trophy as the league’s best defenseman during 1964-65 and scored a career high 80 points in 1965-66.
“Lionel was one of the most polite, soft spoken legends and I vividly remember organist Jack Loos playing Choo Choo after he scored a goal to the delight of the fans,” Komet CEO Steven Franke said. “After he retired he would try to attend all the important Komet events including opening night ceremonies. He was very thankful that we continued to honor the original players and expressed his gratitude to the Franke Family time and again.
“Lionel was not only a great hockey player but a very successful businessman who used his Komet career as a springboard to success for his family and the community. Lionel was truly a Komet legend and I will personally miss him and the twinkle in his eyes.”
Repka ranks fifth in the all-time top 10 most career games played (regular season) as a Komet with 666 and ranks 11th all-time, third as a defensemen, with 492 points.
Repka was one of the first to be inducted into the Komets Hall of Fame in 1988. The number 6 was also retired in his honor.
Upon his retirement from hockey, Repka decided to make Fort Wayne his home with his wife Helen. Repka entered the insurance business and opened Repka and Associates. His sons Ron and David were also successful in similar fields. Repka decided to retire in 1997 at age 62.
Services are pending.