UTICA, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — Local dignitaries converged on the Adirondack Bank Center for a press conference on Friday, October 13 to celebrate the official arrival of the IIHF Women’s World Championship to be held there in April.

“Hosting this event is an opportunity for us to show everything Utica has to offer,” Mohawk Valley Garden president Robert Esche said. “We plan to make it a twelve-day spectacle unlike anything the area has seen, from showcasing local businesses and event spaces, to the fan zone festivities surrounding the building, through the games inside the Adirondack Bank Center. Our goal is to make this the best Women’s World Championship to date, and to show the world how strong the hockey community is in Utica.”

The inspiration for Utica to host the ten-day event didn’t come easily, though. What made it harder was that Utica would be only the fifth United States host since 1990 and only the second time New York has hosted — Lake Placid hosted the event in 1994.

“Quite honestly, I didn’t feel like we had a good case…To take a stab at this was a little uncomfortable,” Esche said. “There’s been a lot of inspiration, from the Wynn Hospital to the Nexus Center. What was amazing was the response from the officials… when they got here, they were just like, ‘wow, the space was terrific.”

Team USA defenseman Megan Keller poses with several members of the Utica Junior Comets after the press conference for the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship. (Photo by Josh McMullen, CNYHomepage.com)

But for Team USA defenseman Megan Keller, any place where the team plays will feel like home.

“The main thing we’re going to notice is that we’re playing on home soil,” Keller said. “I think we’re excited to play on home soil. Any time we come into a town like this, the goal is to bring home the gold medal.”

Keller is also scheduled to drop the first puck of the season on Friday night at the Utica Comets game, when they host the Syracuse Crunch in their season opener. “I’m hoping it’ll just settle flat and it won’t roll away,” she said.

USA Hockey also announced preliminary ticket sales for the event. Currently, there will be one pass — currently listed on Empire State Tickets — that will get fans into all 29 games of the World Championships. Tickets for individual games will be released — along with the cost — at a later date.

Keller and Team USA’s quest for back-to-back gold medals begins on Wednesday, April 3 when they open up the tournament against Switzerland. The final tournament schedule – which includes 29 total games – is anticipated to be released later in October.