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Utica Comets

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Utica Comets
2018–19 AHL season
Utica Comets logo.svg
City Utica, New York
League American Hockey League
Conference Eastern
Division North
Founded 1932
Operated 2013–present
Home arena Adirondack Bank Center
Colors Blue, green, silver, white
Owner(s) Canucks Sports & Entertainment
(leased to Robert Esche)
General manager Ryan Johnson[1]
Head coach Trent Cull
Media WKLL (94.9 FM)
WKTV NewsChannel 2
WUTR Eyewitness News
Affiliates Vancouver Canucks (NHL)
Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL)
Franchise history
1932–1935 Quebec Beavers
1935–1951 Springfield Indians
1951–1954 Syracuse Warriors
1954–1967 Springfield Indians
1967–1974 Springfield Kings
1974–1994 Springfield Indians
1994–2005 Worcester IceCats
2005–2013 Peoria Rivermen
2013–present Utica Comets
Division Championships 1 (2014–15)
Conference Championships 1 (2014–15)
Calder Cups 0

The Utica Comets are a professional ice hockey team based in Utica, New York. They are members of the North Division, of the Eastern Conference of the American Hockey League (AHL). Beginning play in the 2013–14 season, the team plays at the Adirondack Bank Center as the AHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks. The Comets are the second AHL team to call Utica home; the Utica Devils played in the city from 1987 until 1993 and were affiliated with the New Jersey Devils.


The Comets' franchise, one of the oldest professional hockey franchises in existence, dates back to 1932, when the team was known as the Quebec Beavers. In 1935, the franchise moved to Springfield and became the Indians, reviving the name after the original Indians franchise ceased operations during the 1932–33 Canadian-American Hockey League season. In addition to the Indians, the team has been known as the Syracuse Warriors, Springfield Kings, Worcester IceCats and then the Peoria Rivermen. The Rivermen franchise was purchased by Canucks Sports & Entertainment (CS&E), owners of the National Hockey League's (NHL) Vancouver Canucks, in a deal announced on March 29, 2013, and approved by the American Hockey League (AHL) on April 18.[2]

After purchasing the Rivermen franchise, CS&E intended to have the franchise located in a market close to Vancouver, British Columbia. Their initial preference was Abbotsford, British Columbia, which was home to the Calgary Flames' AHL farm club, the Abbotsford Heat. The Heat had been rumored to have plans to relocate to Utica, New York, at the time.[3] Negotiations between the Canucks and Abbotsford broke down by April 22, ensuring the Heat would remain in the city.[4] Media reports speculated that the Canucks would move the team to Vancouver and share Rogers Arena, which is also owned by CS&E, with the Canucks. This proved impossible as Vancouver is within Abbotsford's 50-mile territorial radius provided by the AHL.[5] A reported plan to have the team play in Seattle's KeyArena was disallowed by the NHL, as Seattle was reportedly a candidate to land the troubled Phoenix Coyotes franchise. However, the Coyotes eventually found a new owner with intentions to keep the franchise in Arizona.[6]

By May 2013, CS&E's options for the franchise were dwindling; it did consider keeping the franchise in Peoria,[7] but notified the city on May 13 it would not operate in that city, and the Rivermen were replaced by a Southern Professional Hockey League team of the same name.[8] CS&E did consider placing the franchise in dormancy for the 2013–14 season, with the Canucks loaning their AHL prospects to other teams.[9] Facing an extended deadline by the AHL to find a new home,[10] CS&E agreed to a deal with Utica, New York, to relocate the franchise to the city's soon-to-be-renovated Memorial Auditorium.[11] The deal was confirmed on June 14 with an official announcement revealing the Utica Comets name and affiliation, along with logo and jerseys patterned after the Canucks' blue, green and silver color scheme.[12] The Comets' nickname honors several prior professional hockey teams in the Mohawk Valley, most notably the Clinton and Mohawk Valley Comets, which played from 1927 until 1977 (as the Mohawk Valley Comets, they called the Memorial Auditorium home); the Atlantic Coast Hockey League's Mohawk Valley Comets, which played from 1985 until 1987; and a third team of the same name, which played in the North Eastern Hockey League during the 2003–04 season.

After the founding CS&E began hiring personnel to run the team. Travis Green became the first head coach in team history,[13] while Paul Jerrard and Nolan Baumgartner were named assistant coaches, and Pat Conacher was hired as the director of hockey operations.[14] Utica played its first game on October 11, 2013, a 4–1 loss to the Rochester Americans. In the game, Pascal Pelletier scored the first goal in Comets history.[15] Utica lost two more games before making their home debut. Before the game, the Comets celebrated the region's hockey history with a slide show, Gordie Howe dropped the ceremonial puck and the Hanson Brothers from the movie Slap Shot made an appearance. Utica lost the game 4–1 to the Albany Devils.[16][17] One week after their home opener, Colin Stuart was named team captain.[18] The Comets finished their debut season with 35 victories and 79 points, just four behind the last spot of the playoffs. Seventeen of the team's thirty-eight home games were sold out.[19]

Before the 2014–15 season, Cal O'Reilly was named the team's new captain.[20] The Comets saw much improvement in their sophomore season, and after Sven Baertschi and Cory Conacher were acquired in trades, the team soon dominated the Western Conference, finishing the regular season as the top seed.[21] During the playoffs, the Comets won the Robert W. Clarke Trophy as Western Conference champions, advancing to the Calder Cup finals against the Manchester Monarchs;[22] the Comets would fall to the Monarchs in five games. Following the season, O'Reilly would join his brother Ryan with the Buffalo Sabres.

The 2015–16 season saw the departure of many Comets players. Jacob Markstrom became the backup goaltender for the Canucks, Brendan Gaunce and newly-named captain Alex Biega also spent significant time with the Canucks, while Nicklas Jensen and Hunter Shinkaruk were traded mid-season to the New York Rangers and Calgary Flames, respectively. The Comets placed third in the North Division, which was moved to the Eastern Conference at the start of the season. They were eliminated in the first round of the 2016 playoffs, losing the series 3–1 to the Albany Devils.

At the start of the 2016–17 season, Carter Bancks was named team captain, replacing Alex Biega, who became a full-time player for the Canucks. The Comets were unable to clinch a playoff berth, falling four points short. However, the team managed to sellout every home game, extending their sellout streak.

On April 26, 2017, the Canucks hired Green as their new head coach. Green had led the Comets to a 155–110–39 record through their first four seasons.[23] He was replaced by Trent Cull as head coach.[24]

The Comets continued their sellout streak through the 2017–18 season. They qualified for the 2018 playoffs as the fourth seed in the North Division. They lost the opening round in five games to the Toronto Marlies, the eventual Calder Cup champions.

Season-by-season results


Current roster

Updated July 12, 2018.[25]

# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace Contract
18 Canada Vincent Arseneau LW L 26 2017 Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec Comets
32 United States Richard Bachman G L 30 2015 Salt Lake City, Utah Canucks
34 Canada Carter Bancks (C) LW L 28 2014 Marysville, British Columbia Comets
8 United States Dylan Blujus D R 24 2017 Buffalo, New York Comets
24 United States Reid Boucher LW L 24 2017 Grand Ledge, Michigan Canucks
United States Brendan Bradley F L 25 2018 Richboro, Pennsylvania Comets
55 Canada Guillaume Brisebois D L 20 2017 Longueuil, Quebec Canucks
58 Canada Michael Carcone LW L 22 2016 Ajax, Ontario Canucks
5 United States Jalen Chatfield D R 22 2017 Ypsilanti, Michigan Canucks
54 Sweden Jonathan Dahlen LW L 20 2018 Östersund, Sweden Canucks
11 United States Cameron Darcy C R 24 2017 South Boston, Massachusetts Comets
30 United States Thatcher Demko G L 22 2016 San Diego, California Canucks
Canada Jagger Dirk D L 25 2018 Penticton, British Columbia Comets
Canada Reid Gardiner RW R 22 2018 Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Comets
77 Russia Nikolay Goldobin LW L 22 2017 Moscow, Russia Canucks
36 Canada Wacey Hamilton (A) C L 27 2014 Cochrane, Alberta Comets
40 Czech Republic Lukas Jasek RW R 20 2018 Trinec, Czech Republic Canucks
9 Canada Yan-Pavel Laplante LW L 23 2016 Chateauguay, Quebec Canucks
15 Canada Zack MacEwen C R 22 2017 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Canucks
7 Canada Tanner MacMaster LW L 22 2018 Calgary, Alberta Comets
4 Canada Evan McEneny D L 24 2014 Hamilton, Ontario Canucks
14 United States Tyler Motte LW L 23 2018 Port Huron, Michigan Canucks
6 Canada Ashton Sautner D L 24 2015 Flin Flon, Manitoba Canucks

Team captains

There have been four Comets players who have served as the Captain. Colin Stuart was the franchise's first captain, who was appointed until he left the team as a free agent in 2014. Current captain Carter Bancks is the franchise's longest-tenured captain, who has held the position for just over one season, edging out the other three.


  2. ^ "Report: Vancouver Canucks Purchase Rivermen; Move to Abbotsford?". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  3. ^ Kramer, Lindsay (2013-02-26). "Possible AHL move to Utica stirs conflicting reports". The Post-Standard. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  4. ^ McIntyre, Gordon (2013-04-23). "Abbotsford Heat staying put for next season at least after Canucks talks break down". The Province. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  5. ^ Dan Kinvig (2013-04-13). "Heat's territorial rights limit Canucks' local AHL options - Abbotsford News". Abbotsford News. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  6. ^ Mirtle, James (2013-06-17). "Seattle on NHL's relocation radar yet again". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  7. ^ Eminian, Dave (2013-04-23). "Civic Center begins talks with NHL Vancouver over Rivermen". Peoria Journal-Star. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  8. ^ Eminian, Dave (2013-05-13). "Peoria to join SPHL under former Rivermen management team". Peoria Journal-Star. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  9. ^ "Report: Canucks won't operate AHL affiliate in Peoria". Abbotsford News. 2013-05-13. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  10. ^ Pap, Elliott (2013-05-13). "Utica rolls out welcome mat for AHL". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  11. ^ Brough, Jason (2013-06-06). "Report: Canucks moving AHL affiliate to Utica". NBC Sports. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  12. ^ Pitarresi, John (2013-06-14). "Utica scores with new hockey team; Comets to play in AHL". Observer-Dispatch. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  13. ^ "Travis Green leaving Winterhawks to become coach of AHL's Utica Comets". The Oregonian. July 11, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Utica Comets assistant coach and director of hockey operations announced". WKTV. 2013-08-13. Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  15. ^ "Comets rewind - Oct 15, 2013". Vancouver Canucks. 2013-10-15. Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  16. ^ Hughes, Steve (2013-10-15). "Long time coming: Utica embraces return of pro hockey". Observer-Dispatch. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  17. ^ "Comets fall 4-1 to Albany Devils in home opener". WKTV. 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  18. ^ "Colin Stuart named first Comets captain in franchise history". WKTV. 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  19. ^ "Comets Year in Review By the Numbers". 
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ Pitarresi, John. "A new season for the Comets as Calder Cup begins". 
  22. ^ [2]
  23. ^ "Travis Green named Canucks head coach". Vancouver Canucks. April 26, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2017. 
  24. ^ "COMETS NAME CULL HEAD COACH". AHL. June 28, 2017. 
  25. ^ "Utica Comets Official Roster". Utica Comets. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 

External links

  • Utica Comets official website
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