The Flyers Alumni Association is saddened to learn of the passing of Quebec Aces/Flyers Alum goaltender Dunc Wilson at age 75. He passed on Oct. 8, 2023, in Utila, Honduras, where he had been living for many years.
Signed by the Flyers in 1968 after his junior hockey career in the Ontario Hockey Association with the Niagara Falls Flyers, Peterborough Petes and Oshawa Generals, Wilson broke into pro hockey in the Philadelphia organization. Originally, he’d been property of the Boston Bruins, but the Flyers claimed his NHL rights from Boston in the NHL Waiver Draft on June 1, 1968.
With Bernie Parent and Doug Favell manning the net in the NHL with the Flyers, Wilson spent two seasons in the American Hockey League with the Quebec Aces. In 1968-69, the Aces made a return trip to the Calder Cup Final before losing to the Hershey Bears. Wilson, who split time during the regular season with Gil Banville, appeared in 37 games in the regular season before starting all 15 games of the Aces’ playoff run.
During the 1969-70 season, Wilson was a workhorse for the Aces, playing in 57 regular season games and logging 3,288 minutes in net. He was backed up by Bobby Taylor (14 GP) and Banville (3 GP). With Doug Favell suffering a cut Achilles tendon on Feb. 11, 1970, the Flyers needed a backup for Parent.
Parent started every game but one over the rest of the season. On February 26, 1970, Wilson made his NHL debut as the Flyers hosted the Chicago Blackhawks at the Spectrum. Wllson stopped 23 of 26 shots in a losing cause, as the Flyers lost 3-2. Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull scored his 31st and 32nd goals of the season, while Pit Martin tallied what proved to be the game-winning goal at 12:43 of the second period. Flyers rookie Bobby Clarke (power play) and Andre Lacroix tallied in a losing cause for Philadelphia.
On March 12, 1970, the Flyers returned Wilson to the Aces in order to get him back into game action. Rookie Michel Belhumeur was recalled to back up Parent but did not appear in a game. On April 1, the Flyers recalled Wilson again for the final three games of the season. The Flyers did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs (the first time in the Flyers’ three-season history the team did not make it to postseason play). Wilson rejoined the Aces for the Calder Cup playoffs, starting four games as the team fell in six games to the Buffalo Bisons in the first round.
On June 9, 1970, the Flyers lost Wilson to the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL Expansion Draft. He went on to spend the next three seasons in the NHL with the Canucks, serving as the team’s primary starter in his second and third years. Wlison holds the distinction of authoring the first shutout in Canucks’ franchise history.
Subsequently, Wilson moved on to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and a relatively brief second stint with the Canucks. One of the highlights of Wilson’s career came on Oct. 15, 1977, as a member of the Penguins. Wilson denied the Flyers’ Orest Kindrachuk on a penalty shot opportunity. However, the Flyers went on to win in an 8-2 road blowout victory. Wllson remained in net the entire game, absorbing all eight goals on 36 shots.
Overall for his NHL career, Wilson played in 287 games. He had an 80-150-32 record with a 3.75 goals against average, .883 save percentage and eight shutouts. His won-loss record was largely a reflection of playing on lower-end clubs for most of his NHL career.
In his post-Flyers years, Wilson became known for wearing his hair long. He sometimes sported a fu manchu mustache or heavy beard. He fought a battle with one of the more serious forms of skin cancer and survived. Wilson retired after the 1978-79 season at age 31.
in retirement, Wilson loved traveling across the world and experiencing different cultures. Later, he settled permanently in Honduras.