Comets Tales: Will Acton
by Don LaibleMar 13, 2015
While most players would call home after a Comets game to talk to their families about how the team did and their personal performances, it’s not the case for Will Acton.
In a mid-week home contest against divisional rival Hamilton Bulldogs, Acton scored the game-winner. The 5-2 Comets’ victory gave the team 70 points on the season. Acton, who was traded to Utica on Nov. 20 earlier this season for Kellan Lain, tallied two goals on the evening. Still, no call home to dad was made.
His dad, Keith Acton, is a member of the Edmonton Oilers’ 1987-88 Stanley Cup championship team who for 15 seasons registered more than 1,000 NHL games with six different organizations. Currently, Keith is the associate coach of the Oilers.
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“We keep our professional and personal lives separate,” said Will, who in March 2011 began his professional career after signing an amateur tryout contract with the Toronto Marlies. “It’s a little different for us. It’s mostly personal matters.”
Acton, at 27, is the second oldest Comet by age, behind Kent Huskins. He continues to skate as an energetic rookie. Centering a line that has Brandon DeFazio on his right and Darren Archibald to his left, Acton’s play clearly has him in a comfortable place. Arriving in Utica shortly before Thanksgiving seemed to set a tone of a rebirth, of sorts, for Acton.
Involved in the team’s 30th transaction of the season (there have been 57 so far), Acton welcomed the move from the Oilers’ organization.
“In the beginning, it was a whirl wind adventure for me and my wife,” Acton said. “This was the first time I was traded. It took a while until we settled in. But, it has turned out good.”
Before packing his bags and overcoming holiday travel earlier this winter en route to the Mohawk Valley, Acton had split his time with the Oilers (3 games) and their AHL affiliate Oklahoma City Barons (6 games). Last season, it was a 30-game ride with Edmonton and another 47 games split in Oklahoma City for Acton. With the Comets has come stability for the Stouffville, Ontario native.
Unlike some who have worn a Comets jersey before arriving at The AUD with little or no knowledge on Utica’s history, Acton had an introduction last season. As a member of the Barons, Acton skated at The AUD in Oklahoma City’s lone visit.
“I was surprised with the fan support,” said Acton who was a four-year player for Lake Superior State University’s hockey program. “I thought they (Comets) then had a really good team; much better than where they were (in the standings).”
As proof of exposure to hockey since birth, Will has a picture of himself at age 1 sitting in the Stanley Cup with his dad proudly propping him up. Seeing Acton’s movements before and after home games, he easily fits in as one of the guys. Before hitting the ice for warm-ups for game 54 on the Comets’ season, Acton was the 13th player to touch the skating surface.
Will was quiet among a dozen or more of his teammates, talking about how they envisioned the night’s game with the Adirondack Flames. Patiently, Acton waited his turn. The guy wearing No. 41 on his white Utica jersey appeared in deep concentration. Neither TV nor still photographers aiming their lights and cameras in his direction altered his mood. Maybe another game winner could be among Acton’s thoughts.
Acton, whose dad and Comets’ coach Travis Green were teammates during the 1993-94 season with the New York Islanders, has contributed 20 points this season. With hope for more to come during the final two months of the regular season, the father and son duo go about their work separately, but diligently.
And so it goes, the name Acton remains in box scores and game summaries, from Utica to all points in the NHL.