The fourth season for the Utica Comets is in the books. While it was a season that unfortunately did not result in playoff hockey, the seven months of hockey that fans witnessed at The AUD brought about some exciting changes coupled with building upon traditions that began in years one and two.
The Comets reached out to the community early in the season with a pregame ceremony prior to Military Night on Friday, November 11 that unveiled an updated memorial mural including the Vietnam and the Korean War. The presentation of colors was performed by the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry of the New York Army National Guard. Representatives from every major conflict dating back to World War II were in attendance for the ceremonial puck drop prior to the opening faceoff.
The second themed jersey of the year gave fans a new opportunity win the coveted jerseys. Pink the Rink jerseys were raffled off live throughout the game on December 3 to an array of lucky winners. Any fan who purchased a $20 ticket had an opportunity to win a jersey, with all proceeds going towards the fight against Breast Cancer.
On Saturday, January 28, the Utica Comets held the first ever Save of the Day Night, presented by New York State Tool. The night boasted the largest 50/50 pot in Comets history and a twofold jersey raffle/auction. The Save of the Day Foundation raised a total of $72,649, which was donated directly to benefit the Thea Bowman House in Utica courtesy of New York State Tool.
By building the 50/50 over three games, the Comets wound up with a final pot total of $35,302, having over $22,500 raised on the final night alone. Following the game, the Comets held a jersey and equipment raffle. The highlight of the raffle, Thatcher Demko’s custom helmet, went back to its original owner; Demko donated $5,700 to the Foundation in order to keep his custom creation.
The weekend of March 31 and April 1 brought Utica hockey fans back to their roots, as the weekend was devoted to celebrating the legacy of the 1967-68 Clinton Comets. Known for their distinguished mark on the community, eight members from the record-holding Clinton Comets attended a dinner at Aqua Vino followed by a pregame ceremony, which concluded with a memorable banner raising ceremony.
To conclude the season, the fans continued their growing streak of sellout games at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, with a current running total of 93 games. The count began on April 10, 2015 and has now spanned over a second consecutive regular season.
In terms of the AHL record for consecutive sellouts, The AUD has sold out 78 consecutive regular season games. The current league record is held by the St. John’s IceCaps with 120 games; from October 10, 2011 to October 26, 2014.
The highlight of fan appreciation week was the reveal and giveaway of the third Utica Comets bobblehead in history; featuring local Mike Zalewski. Bobbleheads were presented by New York State Tool and distributed to every fan in attendance.
In keeping with traditions built during the Comets Inaugural season, players were active in the local community, lending a helping hand wherever and whenever possible. Volunteer days at the Rescue Mission and Adopt-A-Family are just two of the many appearances that Comets players embarked on during their off days. Utica Comets players also entered their second year of the Mentorship program with the Utica Jr. Comets, where they served as role models and friends to younger players in the organization.
While the season did not end with a playoff berth, it was nonetheless a remarkable season both on and off the ice. With much to look forward to on the horizon, the future for the Utica Comets could not be brighter, as they continue to build a legacy and leave a lasting impression far beyond the Mohawk Valley.
Comets Season Totals:
Record: 35-32-9 (.520 PCT) – 5th/North Division
Home: 19-14-5 (.566 PCT)
Road: 16-18-4 (.474 PCT)
Leading Scorers: Darren Archibald (23-24-47 in 76 GP)…Curtis Valk (16-30-46 in 75 GP)…Alexandre Grenier (17-28-45 in 69 GP)
Leading Goaltenders: Thatcher Demko (22-17-4, 2.68 GAA, .907 SV%, 45 GP)…Richard Bachman (13-11-3, 2.65 GAA, .908 SV%, 27 GP)
Record vs. Opponents:
Atlantic: 13-12-1 (BRI: 3-1-0, HFD: 3-1-0, HER: 1-1-0, LV: 0-4-0, PRO: 2-2-0, SPR: 2-1-1, WBS: 2-2-0)
North: 22-20-8 (ALB: 6-1-1, BNG: 3-2-1, RCH: 3-4-1, STJ: 2-3-3, SYR: 5-5-2, TOR: 3-5-0)
Power Play: 50-330 (15.2%) 24th in the AHL
Penalty Kill: 265-327 (81.0%) 21st in the AHL
2016-17 Utica Comets Awards: