The AHL All Star Classic wrapped up with a bang Monday night at the Adirondack Bank Center. The high-energy event saw all 30 teams from the American Hockey League descend upon the Mohawk Valley for the second time in three years for the league’s mid-winter showcase.
“It’s great watching the skills these guys have is just incredible,” said Joe Lopata, a four-year season ticket holder. “Watching Demko put on a show Sunday was great.”
The All-Star Challenge tournament gave the fans everything they could’ve wanted and more. The Pacific Division cruised through the round robin, going 3-0 in the process. The Central Division went winless, and the North and Atlantic Division’s went 1-1-0 through the first two games before battling in the final round robin matchup.
The Atlantic jumped out to a 3-0 but the North was able to battle back. The North stormed back in dramatic fashion. Reid Boucher, Syracuse’s Mitchell Stephens, and Rochester’s C.J. Smith all tallied goals to even the game. Laval’s Matt Taormina registered the game-winning goal with 12 seconds remaining in the game.
The North and Pacific met in the championship game for bragging rights. Smith scored the lone goal of the game and Thatcher Demko and Rochester goalie Linus Ullmark combined for a shutout to earn the 1-0 championship victory.
Boucher finished with three goals in four games and Demko stopped 13 of 19 shots through four games, earning two wins in the process.
“We’ve been doing this for five years going to different AHL All-Star Games. We were here the last time it was in Utica and it’s a great arena and a great city. The Comets put on a really great show,” said Bill Cole, a Massachusetts resident and Providence Bruins fan. “It’s great hockey, it’s great entertainment and an incredible value. It’s an all-around great time.”
Lehigh Valley fan Danielle Fattizzo added, “It’s my 19th year going to All-Star games. Interacting with the players, VIPs, mascots and everything, it’s an enjoyable time and a time for us girls to get together.”
Comets hockey returns to the Adirondack Bank Center on Friday, February 2 as Utica battles against division rival Syracuse Crunch. Puck drops at 7pm.