The phone calls for Brogan Rafferty and Reid Boucher came in this morning. On the other end was Comets general manager Ryan Johnson, who was relaying the message that their plans for All-Star weekend were officially spoken for.
The Comets pair were tapped to represent the organization at the upcoming AHL All-Star Classic in Ontario, CA. The forecast in Utica on the day they received the phone call? An unseasonably warm high of 49 degrees with a chance of rain. For all intents and purposes, a nice day.
In Ontario, though, temps are in the low 70s and precipitation isn’t expected for another two weeks. A far cry from winter in the Northeast.
“First of all I’m looking forward to the warm weather,” Rafferty, a first-time All-Star selection, and current leader of all AHL defensemen in scoring, laughed. “But I’m also looking forward to representing the Comets and Vancouver Canucks organization while I’m there and having a little fun.”
For Boucher, who’s making his third-straight trip to the All-Star game, the sunshine is a nice draw as well. Especially considering the last two All-Star markets (Utica/Springfield) aren’t known for their January weather.
“Warm weather sounds nice,” he said with a smile. “The whole experience is so unique every time you go. I’m just going to be looking to soak it all in.”
Death, taxes, and Reid Boucher getting named to the All-Star team, those are the only guarantees in life. But when he got the call this morning from Johnson, his excitement was the same as it was the first time.
“It never gets old. I was really excited when Ryan called me. It’s always a big honor and I’ve been lucky enough to earn it the last couple of years,” the AHL’s top goal scorer said. “But I’m also excited that Raf got the call today too. It’s always nice to have a familiar face in the locker room when you go. He’s earned it.”
“Reid has developed himself into an elite professional who continues to get better and better as a player and leader,” Johnson said. “He truly sets the bar not just in every game, but in practice as well.”
Rafferty’s meteoric start has turned many heads, and he is quickly being brought into the conversation as one of the top young prospects in the entire league. For him, the method towards earning those accolades have been simple.
“I just show up every day and do my job and try to get better every day,” he said. “I’m seeing results maybe better than I or most anticipated, but it comes with playing with great teammates and having a great coaching staff.”
“Brogan’s commitment to his craft has shown in the steps he has taken week to week,” Johnson mentioned. “He may be as improved as a player as we’ve had since day one because he comes to the arena every day to get better. He’s dynamic offensively, but is making a commitment to all areas of his game.”
For Rafferty, it’s been a few weeks full of new experiences. He got engaged over the Christmas break, he was named as the AHL’s Rookie of the Month for December, then he found out he’s being recognized as one of the league’s top players with All-Star honors.
“I haven’t experienced anything like this before,” he said. “It’s brand new. It’s pretty cool.”