Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the Save of the Day Foundation has spent the last decade-and-a-half changing the lives of people in the Mohawk Valley.
Since its inception, the foundation has raised over $2 million to provide financial assistance for children with life-threatening illnesses, as well as a variety of local non-profit organizations that fall into one of the critical areas of need as identified by the foundation Board of Directors: Youth Health and Wellness; Local Military and Law Enforcement initiatives; and Education.
After the successes of previous events for the foundation, chairman Robert Esche wanted to put together the biggest and best fundraising efforts for 2018-19. His wish was granted, His wish was granted due to the amazing fan support for the jersey raffles and 50/50 ticket sales combined with incredible on-ice action by the Utica Comets winning two of the three Save of the Day week games.
This year's Save of the Day Foundation week was one to remember. A three-game stretch between rivals Syracuse Crunch, Binghamton Devils and the Belleville Senators highlighted the on-ice product, while a record 50/50 and jersey raffle highlighted the off-ice happenings. The Utica Comets went 2-1-0 during the three-game stretch in their black and neon-green jerseys.
When the Comets entertain their rivals from Syracuse, it is never an easy game. In this edition it was the young guns who stepped up to lead the Comets to a 5-4 victory. Adam Gaudette and Jonathan Dahlen both had two-point nights, while Kole Lind recorded his first ever AHL goal which was eventually deemed the game winner to beat the division rivals and set the tone for the weekend.
Two nights later, the Comets took on the Binghamton Devils in a thrill ride. Five different players scored to help boost the Comets over the Devils in 5-3 fashion. Ivan Kulbakov made 29 saves to help propel the Comets in the win.
One of the weekend’s most memorable moments took place before the Friday night game, as participants of the Adaptive Skating Program dropped the opening puck. The program began in September of 2019 after a grant from the Save of the Day Foundation and was created to teach skating to kids (ages 2-16) who exhibit communication, physical and/or cognitive challenges that may affect their ability to participate in a traditional skating club. As the ceremonial puck drop commenced, Jaime Sifers and Ivan Kulbakov skated over to deliver hugs and hand-pounds, producing ear-to-ear grins from the Adaptive Skating Program members on the ice and setting a great tone for a spectacular night.
In the third and final game of the Save of the Day Foundation week, the Comets hosted the Belleville Senators, but were stymied by a 5-2 loss. Though the loss was a tough one to swallow, it didn’t take anything away from the record-setting week it was for the Comets and the foundation.
Altogether, between Save of the Day week—including a record $38,967 50/50 pot—and a holiday gala hosted by the foundation, over $200,000 was raised in December and January for the Save of the Day Foundation. The money raised went towards the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 490, Mohawk Valley Youth Hockey Association, On Point for College, Veterans Outreach Center and Kristin’s Fund for victims of domestic violence.
As the calendar shifts to another season, many will be circling the Save of the Day week in January 2020 when they can see the Comets in their one-of-a-kind jerseys, and have a chance to be in the money on another massive 50/50.