Clinton Comets Heritage Night Hits Its Mark
by Don LaibleFeb 21, 2016
Saturday's Utica Comets' 39th consecutive sold-out home game at The AUD was no ordinary evening.
Clinton Comets Heritage Night celebrated 90 years of Comets hockey in the Mohawk Valley, as well as those who made hockey in the Mohawk Valley possible.
Five members of past Clinton Comets Eastern League Championship teams were in attendance for the evening's festivities. Dave Armstrong, Pierre Prevost, Borden Smith, Archie Burton, and the captain - Jack Kane were the honorees as part of the night’s celebration.
The main piece of the evening’s festivities, the incredible jerseys the Comets on the ice wore, were auctioned off after the Comets-Albany Devils game. New Hartford native, Mike Zalewski, saw his jersey go for $1,900.00. Brandon Prust's jersey sold for $2,000, and the “winning” jersey was...**drumroll please**....Alex Friesen’s jersey that went for $2,150.
There were other avenues in which Comets' fans were able to participate in supporting the Save of the Day Foundation, who dedicated the night’s fundraising for local youth hockey. "Mystery Boxes” were sold prior to the game, as well as in-between periods, in The AUD's lobby. An estimated 700 boxes were purchased. Many fans scooped up multiple boxes, and collected many Comets' unique items in the process.
Deanna Lercaro of Frankfort, a first-year season-ticket holder, gladly purchased four boxes, and is pleased with her new found Comets' "stash".
"I got three (autographed) pucks, a parking sign, a Brendan Gaunce signed picture, and a Comets sweatshirt. This is the best thing going."
The rich hockey heritage of the Comets, for many of the current Utica fans, is what they have been only able to ready about, or watch video clips of. New York Mills resident Melissa Younghanz, not old enough to have seen the Clinton teams, picked up an even 10 boxes with her husband and son.
"I'm a history (hockey) buff,” explained Melissa. “This is an exciting night that I've been looking forward to. I think it's neat that the staff is in tuxes too."
The 50/50 raffle, an important arm in the Comets' funding the programs of The Save of the Day Foundation, also saw the fans #RAISEtheLEVEL on Saturday night. $12,872.00 was collected, with the support of the Comets' faithful, and generous, fan base.
3,860 seats were filled for the Comets - Devils match. 20 minutes prior to the start of the game, the five former Clinton Comets gathered by The AUD's stage area, waiting for their cue with the ceremonial puck drop.
"They were young once," John Pitarresi, retired Observer-Dispatch sportswriter, said of the Clinton Comets' alumni.
Civic pride ruled at The AUD on Saturday. Even with the Comets coming up short in overtime to Albany, from fans, to the Comets' franchise, The Save of the Day Foundation, all parties headed home winners.