Comets Tales: Greger Hanson, Still at Work
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Jun 6, 2016
Two months after skating in his last game as a Utica Comet, Greger Hanson is the only player to wear a Comets sweater this season that is still hard at work. He played the role of hero to boot.
17 seconds into overtime on Saturday, Hanson’s slap shot from the top of the slot gave the Allen Americans a 3-2 win, and 3-2 series lead over the Wheeling Nailers in Game 5 of the Kelly Cup Finals.
For a third year in a row, Hanson, who suited up for the Comets in seven games this past season, is positioned to be part of a championship team. The Texas-based Americans, who Hanson rejoined after being released from his PTO contract in early April, are challenging the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL's Kelly Cup Finals. Allen is the first defending ECHL champion to return to the Finals since 1994.
The AHL experience gained with the Comets is paying dividends for the Swede.
"The coaching is pretty good," proclaimed Hanson of Travis Green and his staff's teachings. "I learned a lot there. Everything was up tempo and the details to their systems made me a smarter hockey player. "
After leaving the Comets, Hanson tells of returning to Allen, located 25 miles outside of Dallas. With the Americans holding his ECHL rights, the former Comet saw ice time in three regular season games prior to the playoffs getting underway.
"Comets fans, and the atmosphere at The AUD are the best that I've ever seen in the league," Hanson said of his AHL Upstate New York tenure. "Wheeling is similar to The AUD; loud, and a crazy fun place to play in."
Hanson tells of Allen keeping track of his play while he was wearing the Comets' colors. For the one month that he was in Utica, Hanson took away a sense of just how important a tight-knit locker room is. This is another attribute from his Comets experience that Hanson has brought back to Texas.
Like so many playing in the AHL, and for that matter other minor pro leagues, Hanson has found himself bouncing from affiliate to affiliate - often. Few are afforded the luxury of remaining with the NHL organization that drafts them, and brings them along all the way to "The Show."
Exclusivity and being drafted aren't luxuries that Hanson can speak of. Quite to the contrary. On Mar. 2, Hanson was signed to a PTO contract. Joining the Comets with a reputation of being a real show stealer come playoff time, Hanson proved to be somewhat of a lucky charm during his stay.
With two days of practice at The AUD, Hanson arrived for a three-games in three-days weekend; two at home, one on the road in Toronto. Having played in two of the three games (Friday at The AUD against the Marlies and Sunday in Toronto), the Comets were a perfect 3-0. Not a bad "how do you do, Utica" at all.
Skating for his third team (Comets) since hockey season began in the fall, in two leagues, Hanson had hoped to catch "lightning in a bottle", as the AHL playoffs came knocking.
"Originally, I was based in Texas with Allen, then I went to San Jose (Barracuda) for three weeks," Hanson said earlier this year in a quiet voice outside the dressing room, as the Comets prepared for a five-hour bus ride to Toronto this past spring. "For two and a half months, I was just outside of Dallas. Great weather, nice city, top skating."
Playing for the Allen Americans of the ECHL is no doubt where Hanson's latest hockey heroics have been on display, and the Vancouver Canucks organization took notice.
Come playoff time, Hanson, hands down, has been in the right place, where trophies are presented. The "winner" tag labeled on Hanson began to stick a couple seasons back, when during the 2013-14 campaign the Greger-led Americans won the CHL championship. The seven-team league would be absorbed the following year into the ECHL.
As the 2014-15 season came to an end last spring, Allen won the ECHL Kelly Cup (named after former Clinton Comet Pat Kelly). A Game 7, 6-1 win over the South Carolina Stingers for the Americans solidified their being tops in the league. All Greger Hanson did, for his part in assuring the championship was collect 29 points in the 25 playoff games that it took for Allen to win it all. He was named the postseason MVP for his efforts.
The post-season performance of Hanson two seasons earlier also proved to be eye-catching. As a member of the Wichita Thunder, Hanson and his teammates lost in the finals to the team he would be a part of in the coming months - Allen.
Game 6 of the Kelly Cup Finals is scheduled for Thursday in Allen. If a Game 7 is necessary, the teams will do battle Saturday night, again in Allen. After his stint with the Comets, Hanson has a built-in fan base in Upstate, NY.