Uticacomets.com sat down with Brendan Woods, and chatted with him about what it’s like to play in the same building as his father, spending summers in Utica, and more.
Utica Comets: Your dad Bob played in this building with the Devils from 1989-91. Hockey is a small world and it’s even smaller because it’s in your family.
Brendan Woods: It’s crazy. To be able to come here and play in front of my family who never got to see me play is a cool experience and nice to have. Being on a PTO last year and being able to stay at my aunt and uncle’s for the season was luxurious. I got home cooked meals and didn’t have to pay rent. We always had the guys over for dinner and for the holidays when they weren’t able to get back home.
UC: Your dad met your mom in Utica, right?
BW: Yep. My mom’s best friend was dating one of my dad’s teammates. She brought my mom to a game and she knew nothing about hockey. I guess a couple of the guys ended up going to a bar, I don’t know which one. (Utica Comets president Robert) Esche made a comment that they were at Babe’s quite a bit. Maybe that was the bar they met. I don’t know if that’s accurate or not. But they met at a bar and the rest was history.
UC: Grandma is at every game too. Is she a big hockey fan or does she just love her grandson?
BW: I think she just loves her grandson. She’s not watching NHL games back at home. She didn’t get to see me play very often during my childhood or pro career, so to be able to have a familiar face in the stands every night is pretty cool.
UC: You used to come to Utica during the summers and for holidays growing up to be with family. Let’s talk about the Utica food scene.
BW: One of my go-to places is Georgio’s—they have great greens—but honestly, I didn’t have to leave the house because of how good the cooking was at home. My whole family is Italian. My cousin’s husband’s restaurant (Little Roma) makes the best riggies out there. Ask anyone. IF it comes down to pizza, I’d go Franco’s. And their hot wings. That was an order our family put in every time before we showed up to Utica.
UC: Do you prefer tomato pie or upside down pizza?
BW: Upside down pizza. I like O’Scugnizzo. Or Joe’s. I think Joe’s is better, actually.
UC: What’s the difference between tomato pie and upside down pizza?
BW: Tomato pie is not a meal, I feel like. It’s like an appetizer.
UC: That’s ridiculous, because the difference is that there’s cheese on the upside down pizza and not on tomato pie. Cheese is not what makes something transition from an appetizer to a meal.
BW: You’ve got an argument there for sure.
UC: You’ve played in a lot of places, you’ve lived in a lot of places. How do Utica fans compare to the others?
BW: The fans here are extremely educated. When you’re winning, they love you. When you’re not performing or giving the effort they want then they let you know. I think that’s great. They hold you accountable and keep you honest. Obviously it’s frustrating being on the outside (of the playoff picture) looking in. It’s disappointing to many, but most importantly the fans, who are so good to us. We will continue to work our hardest for them.
UC: What’s your perfect Utica day?
BW: I’d probably wake up and go to Turning Stone to play on one of their golf courses. They’re really nice. I’d probably grab some chicken riggies at Little Roma for lunch and then maybe do a brewery tour up at Saranac. Then pizza and wings for dinner.
UC: You’d probably have to take a TUMS after all of that.
UC: How have you seen the city of Utica change since you were a kid?
BW: My dad and Rob Esche are very close. My dad would come back during the summers when my mom came to see her family and he needed a goalie to train with. So he would always drag Rob to the rink and throw him in net. When the building was being renovated to bring back the AHL, we came here and the walls were all different colors and it looked like a circus. What it is now—with the suites too—I’m just floored as to how nice it is. The work has been absolutely unbelievable.