Utica Comets
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Utica Comets

Utica Comets
2021-22 AHL season
Utica Comets (2021) logo.svg
CityUtica, New York
LeagueAmerican Hockey League
Founded1932 (first franchise)
1998 (second franchise)
Home arenaAdirondack Bank Center
ColorsRed, black, white
Owner(s)Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment
(leased to Robert Esche)
MediaWKLL (94.9 FM)
WKTV NewsChannel 2
WUTR Eyewitness News
AHL.TV (Internet)
AffiliatesNew Jersey Devils (NHL)
Adirondack Thunder (ECHL)
Franchise history
First franchise
Quebec Beavers
Springfield Indians
Syracuse Warriors
Springfield Indians
Springfield Kings
Springfield Indians
Worcester IceCats
Peoria Rivermen
2013-2021Utica Comets
2021-presentAbbotsford Canucks
Second franchise
Lowell Lock Monsters
Lowell Devils
2010-2017Albany Devils
2017-2021Binghamton Devils
2021-presentUtica Comets
Division Championships1 (2014-15)
Conference Championships1 (2014-15)

The Utica Comets are a professional ice hockey team based in Utica, New York, with home games at the Adirondack Bank Center. They are members of the North Division in the Eastern Conference of the American Hockey League (AHL) and affiliated with the National Hockey League's (NHL) New Jersey Devils. The team was established when the Vancouver Canucks relocated the AHL franchise to Utica for the 2013-14 season and remained until the 2020-21 season. The Devils then agreed to lease their franchise to the Comets after the Canucks moved their AHL franchise to Abbotsford.

The Comets are the second AHL team to call Utica home; the Utica Devils played in the city from 1987 until 1993 and were also affiliated with the New Jersey Devils. In the 2021-22 AHL season, the Canucks relocated the franchise used by the Comets to Abbotsford, British Columbia, and the Devils relocated their former AHL team, the Binghamton Devils, to play as the Comets.


Establishment of the Comets

On March 29, 2013, a deal was announced for the Peoria Rivermen franchise to be purchased by Canucks Sports & Entertainment (CS&E), owners of the National Hockey League's (NHL) Vancouver Canucks, and was approved by the American Hockey League (AHL) on April 18.[1] The Rivermen franchise is one of the oldest professional hockey franchises in existence, dating 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 Rivermen.

After purchasing the 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.[2] Negotiations between the Canucks and Abbotsford broke down by April 22, ensuring the Heat would remain in the city.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]

By May 2013, CS&E's options for the franchise were dwindling; it did consider keeping the franchise in Peoria,[6] 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.[7] CS&E did consider placing the franchise in dormancy for the 2013-14 season, with the Canucks loaning their AHL prospects to other teams.[8] Facing an extended deadline by the AHL to find a new home,[9] CS&E agreed to a deal with Utica, New York, to relocate the franchise to the city's soon-to-be-renovated Memorial Auditorium.[10] 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.[11] 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.

Vancouver Canucks affiliation (2013-2021)

After the establishing the team, CS&E began hiring operations personnel. Travis Green became the first head coach,[12] while Paul Jerrard and Nolan Baumgartner were named assistant coaches, and Pat Conacher was hired as the director of hockey operations.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15][16] One week after their home opener, Colin Stuart was named team captain.[17] The Comets finished their debut season with 35 victories and 79 points, four points behind the last spot of the playoffs. Seventeen of the team's thirty-eight home games were sold out.[18]

Comets' logo from 2013 to 2021 with colors reflecting those of the Canucks.

Before the 2014-15 season, Cal O'Reilly was named the team's new captain.[19] The Comets saw much improvement in their second 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.[20] 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;[21] the Comets would fall to the Monarchs in five games. Following the season, O'Reilly joined 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 after leading the Comets to a 155-110-39 record through their first four seasons.[22] He was replaced by Trent Cull as head coach of the Comets.[23] 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.

On October 19, 2018, the Utica Comets sold out their 121st consecutive regular season game, establishing a new AHL record. They also sold out all of their 17 playoff games hosted during this span, for a combined streak of 138 consecutive sellouts.[24] They reached 200 consecutive regular season sellouts on February 29, 2020.

On December 29, 2018, during the final season of their initial six-year affiliation agreement, the Canucks and Comets extended their affiliation agreement for up to an additional six years, with potential opt outs every two seasons.[25][26]

The Comets played their first 61 games of the 2019-20 season, but the last 15 games of the season were postponed on March 12, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then cancelled entirely.[27] The start of the 2020-21 season was also pushed back to February 2021. The Comets also agreed to a one-year dual affiliation with the St. Louis Blues after the Springfield Thunderbirds opted out of the 2020-21 season.[28] Prior to the pandemic-related schedule changes, the Comets planned to host the Syracuse Crunch in an outdoor game at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, New York, on February 13, 2021,[29] however, the game was not held as the season had not started.[30]

New Jersey Devils affiliation (2021)

In April 2021, a new trademark was filed for the brand "Utica Devils" by Robert Esche, the operator of the Utica Comets, for a potential relocation of the Binghamton Devils.[31] On May 4, the Canucks announced that they plan to relocate the Comets' franchise to Abbotsford, British Columbia, pending final discussions with the city of Abbotsford and league approval.[32] On May 6, the league approved of both relocations while the Comets and the Devils announced a ten-year affiliation agreement for the Comets to operate the Devils' AHL franchise.[33] The Utica team remained branded as the Comets[34] but changed their team colors to match the Devils.[35]

Season-by-season results

Regular season Playoffs
Season Games Won Lost OTL SOL Points PCT Goals
Standing Year 1st
2013-14 76 35 32 5 4 79 .520 187 216 3rd, North 2014 Did not qualify
2014-15 76 47 20 7 2 103 .678 219 182 1st, North 2015 W, 3-2, CHI W, 4-3, OKC W, 4-2, GR L, 1-4, MCH
2015-16 76 38 26 8 4 88 .579 224 217 3rd, North 2016 L, 1-3, ALB -- -- --
2016-17 76 35 32 7 2 79 .520 195 220 5th, North 2017 Did not qualify
2017-18 76 38 26 8 4 88 .579 211 216 4th, North 2018 L, 2-3, TOR -- -- --
2018-19 76 34 34 6 2 76 .500 224 257 6th, North 2019 Did not qualify
2019-20 61 34 22 3 2 73 .598 210 186 3rd, North 2020 Season cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2020-21 28 16 11 0 1 33 .589 89 88 4th, North 2021 No playoffs were held


Current roster

Updated July 20, 2021.[36]

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. Carter Bancks was the franchise's longest-tenured captain, who has held the position from 2016 until his retirement after the 2019-20 season.[37]


  1. ^ "Report: Vancouver Canucks Purchase Rivermen; Move to Abbotsford?". Thecanuckway.com. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ Kramer, Lindsay (February 26, 2013). "Possible AHL move to Utica stirs conflicting reports". The Post-Standard. Retrieved 2013.
  3. ^ McIntyre, Gordon (April 23, 2013). "Abbotsford Heat staying put for next season at least after Canucks talks break down". The Province. Archived from the original on May 17, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  4. ^ Dan Kinvig (April 13, 2013). "Heat's territorial rights limit Canucks' local AHL options - Abbotsford News". Abbotsford News. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ Mirtle, James (June 17, 2013). "Seattle on NHL's relocation radar yet again". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2013.
  6. ^ Eminian, Dave (April 23, 2013). "Civic Center begins talks with NHL Vancouver over Rivermen". Peoria Journal-Star. Retrieved 2013.
  7. ^ Eminian, Dave (May 13, 2013). "Peoria to join SPHL under former Rivermen management team". Peoria Journal-Star. Retrieved 2013.
  8. ^ "Report: Canucks won't operate AHL affiliate in Peoria". Abbotsford News. May 13, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  9. ^ Pap, Elliott (May 13, 2013). "Utica rolls out welcome mat for AHL". The Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  10. ^ Brough, Jason (June 6, 2013). "Report: Canucks moving AHL affiliate to Utica". NBC Sports. Retrieved 2013.
  11. ^ Pitarresi, John (June 14, 2013). "Utica scores with new hockey team; Comets to play in AHL". Observer-Dispatch. Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  12. ^ "Travis Green leaving Winterhawks to become coach of AHL's Utica Comets". The Oregonian. July 11, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  13. ^ "Utica Comets assistant coach and director of hockey operations announced". WKTV. August 13, 2013. Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  14. ^ "Comets rewind - Oct 15, 2013". Vancouver Canucks. October 15, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  15. ^ Hughes, Steve (October 15, 2013). "Long time coming: Utica embraces return of pro hockey". Observer-Dispatch. Archived from the original on November 17, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  16. ^ "Comets fall 4-1 to Albany Devils in home opener". WKTV. October 23, 2013. Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  17. ^ "Colin Stuart named first Comets captain in franchise history". WKTV. October 30, 2013. Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  18. ^ "Comets Year in Review By the Numbers".
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ Pitarresi, John. "A new season for the Comets as Calder Cup begins".
  21. ^ [2]
  22. ^ "Travis Green named Canucks head coach". Vancouver Canucks. April 26, 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  23. ^ "COMETS NAME CULL HEAD COACH". AHL. June 28, 2017.
  24. ^ "COMETS BREAK AHL SELLOUT STREAK RECORD AT 121 GAMES". Utica Comets. October 19, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  25. ^ "Canucks extend affiliate deal with the AHL's Utica Comets". The Province. December 29, 2018. Retrieved 2019.
  26. ^ "Canucks extend AHL affiliate deal with Utica Comets". Vancouver Canucks. December 29, 2018. Retrieved 2019.
  27. ^ American Hockey League (March 12, 2020). "AHL suspends play". theahl.com. Retrieved 2020.
  28. ^ "Thunderbirds opt out of 2020-21 AHL season". nhl.com/blues. January 4, 2021. Retrieved 2021.
  29. ^ Ben Birnell (February 19, 2020). "Utica Comets to host 2021 AHL outdoor game". uticaod.com. Retrieved 2020.
  30. ^ "Comets to play in 2020-21 AHL season". Rome Sentinel. January 4, 2021.
  31. ^ "Potential move of AHL teams puts future of hockey in Binghamton in question". WBNG. April 16, 2021.
  32. ^ "Canucks to move American Hockey League affiliate to Abbotsford". The Province. May 4, 2021.
  33. ^ "Board of Governors Approves Franchise Relocations". AHL. May 6, 2021.
  35. ^ @UticaComets (May 17, 2021). "Logo change" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  36. ^ "Utica Comets Official Roster". Utica Comets. July 20, 2021. Retrieved 2021.
  37. ^ "Comets Captain Carter Bancks Announces Retirement from AHL". OurSports Central. January 11, 2021.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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