Fort Wayne Komets honour Trail native Terry McDougall

Former Trail Jr. Smoke Eater Terry McDougall had his jersey retired by his former IHL team.

Trail native, Terry McDougall, received one of the highest honours attributable to an athlete in any sport.

The Fort Wayne Komets of the International Hockey League (IHL) retired McDougall’s No. 19 jersey earlier this year to honour the prolific playmaker and remember his seven years suiting up for the Indiana team.

“That’s a record that will never be broken, I think, 35 years later to get my jersey retired,” McDougall told the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette. “Growing up – I grew up to be a hockey player – and to come back after all these years for this honour, I don’t know if there’s anything better than that. To have your jersey retired with all those other names up there, it’s pretty cool.”

McDougall, 63, was born and raised in Trail, where he played his minor hockey, and a couple memorable seasons with the Trail Jr. Smoke Eaters before moving on to the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League.

A natural athlete, McDougall, excelled in golf and also helped the East Trail Babe Ruth baseball team to a provincial championship in 1965 and the Canadian championship the same year only to lose to Stoney Plains in the final.

“He was the last cut of the Vancouver Canucks and the Philadelphia Flyers,” said childhood friend Jay Lingard. “He was a very competitive person, very talented, and whatever sport he played, he was good at it, whether he just picked it up or not.”

McDougall was drafted in 1973 by the Vancouver Canucks 146th overall, and was the eighth round, 101st pick of the Winnipeg Jets of the WHA.

After two years in Swift Current, McDougall made the jump to the IHL with the Des Moines Capitols for two seasons. He joined the Komets in 1975 and made Fort Wayne his home until 1982. In his first season, McDougall led the Komets with 53 assists and 88 points and again in 1976-77 with 36 goals, 66 assists and 102 points.

But his best season came in 1978-79 with career highs of 57 goals, 82 assists and 139 points to become the IHL’s scoring champion that year. His 139 points tied the Fort Wayne record for most points in a season, and McDougall, at 25, was voted the IHL Most Valuable Player.

Former Trail Sr. Smoke Eater, Al Hillier, who also played in the IHL, told Lingard that McDougall was by far the best player in the league despite being listed as a five-foot-eight, 165-pound centerman, playing in an era notorious for its rough play.

“There was some crazy nights,” added Lingard. “But he was a fighter, and he had a temper.”

Komets president Michael Franke echoed Hillier’s and Lingard’s in his comments prior to the ceremony.

“His points per game were incredible when you look at him compared to all the other Komet players over the years,” Franke told the Journal Gazette. “During his tenure here … he was definitely the best player in the league at that time. And in the (International Hockey League), that was saying a lot.

“And he was a disturber, too. It’s not so much that he was tough, but he was gritty and was also maybe just this side of dirty. I think he scared a lot of the guys on other teams.”

McDougall set many Komet playoff records during his Fort Wayne career including most points in a single playoff season (25, 1979), most points in a series (13, 1979 vs Grand Rapids), most points in a playoff game (5 on March 30, 1976 vs Toledo), and most assists in a playoff season (18, 1979). McDougall also reached 30 goals in a regular season six times and reached 50 goals once, during the 1978-79 campaign.

McDougall finished out his career in Flint, Mich., where he still resides, and ended his career on a high note, helping the Flint Generals to its first Turner Cup championship in his final season, 1983-84.

And while the former Jr. Smoke Eater may have left Trail, his image remains a permanent fixture on the wall of the Trail Memorial Centre. McDougall is a prominent figure on the ‘Minor Hockey Week’ mural, the young hockey player in red with “East” written on his jersey. The image was copied from a photo by mural artists Steven Skolka and Tyler Toews of Canadian Murals.

Komets tales: Another Trail native, Reno Zanier, played goal for the Fort Wayne Komets from 1959-to-62 and holds the record for most shutouts, 7, and best goals-against-average for the season, 2.61 in 64 games in 1959-60.

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