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Janelle Sou Roberts/The Journal Gazette
Bob Chase calls the game between the Komets and the Rockford IceHogs on Jan. 22, 2006. Chase is to receive the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame's Lester Patrick Trophy for service to the game in the United States.

Bob Chase honored by U.S. Hockey Hall

Lester Patrick Trophy given for service to game in States

Longtime Komets broadcaster Bob Chase, who is about to call his 60th consecutive season on WOWO, will be honored with the Lester Patrick Trophy during the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction celebration in Dallas on Oct. 15.

The award is presented annually for outstanding service to hockey in the United States and has been given to people such as Gordie Howe, Scotty Bowman, John Davidson, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

"It's kind of hard to explain how I feel," Chase said. "I never saw this coming at all. It meant a lot when I learned. I got a call from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and he said, 'I want to be the first to congratulate you.'

"I was on the highway, about an hour outside of Huntsville, Alabama, and I'm surrounded by semis. And I had nowhere to go, no place to stop. My wife, Murph, looked at me and there were tears streaming down my face and she thought someone must have died."

Also receiving the award this year will be Washington Capitals executive Dick Patrick, the grandson of Lester Patrick, who spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach and general manager.

Dick Patrick has guided the Capitals to the postseason in 23 of 29 years. He is the team's president.

Chase, 86, was born in Negaunee, Mich., and was raised in Marquette, Mich. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he began his radio career as a student at Northern Michigan.

The school will honor him as its Distinguished Alumnus at a ceremony Sept. 22. That honor has also been bestowed upon the likes of Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo and former NFL coach Steve Mariucci.

Chase was hired at WOWO in 1953 and has called all of the Komets' seasons except their first. He retired as WOWO's sports director in 2009 but continues to broadcas5t the Komets, covering their championship last season in the CHL.

The Komets will play in the ECHL this season.

Chase, whose real last name is Wallenstein, has called all nine of the Komets' playoff championships, as well as their 12 regular-season titles. His broadcasts are also on 92.3 FM and on the Web through www.Komets.com.

He has asked the Hall of Fame to put both Chase and Wallenstein on the trophy, so that his parents are properly honored for supporting him as he chased his dreams.

He has influenced many other broadcasters, including Mike Emrick, whom he mentored while Emrick was in college. Emrick, who has won the Lester Patrick Trophy, helped submit Chase's nomination.

Chase also interviewed myriad celebrities, such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, and he called the famed 1954 Milan High School state basketball championship, the game that inspired the movie "Hoosiers."

"When I was told I was getting the Patrick Award, it was unreal," Chase said. "I couldn't handle it. And when I look at the names of the other recipients, I still keep thinking, 'Wow. How did I get here?'

"I guess I can retire now with total satisfaction.... I just thank the good lord for keeping me around and letting me accomplish and experience these things."

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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