Rumors began to fly about the possibility of professional hockey making a return to the Utica area late last year. Today the Vancouver Canucks along with Mohawk Valley Garden put all the rumors to rest.
Eschesays, “I went to the Utica Devils games first then I started playing hockey when I was 12 years old. So, for me the Utica Devils was the time with my Father and my family and it was a great time. And when they left it was always like when are we going to get an AHL team back?”
33 years ago Frank DuRoss helped resurrect the Comets for a short time…Now he’s part of the group that is bringing them back and he says pro hockey can survive in Central New York thanks to local ownership.
DuRoss says, “I think the difference is we have a local ownership group, born and raised in Oneida County, completely committed to this project, with $5 million of improvements from the state so we can bring the Aud to something this area’s never seen before.”
Esche added, “You know these deals are set up, there made and broken by authority agreements. The strength of the authority agreement and us is what makes us make sense.”
The Comets will be owned and affiliated with the Vancouver Canucks and Assistant GM Laurence Gilman says after seeing the Aud and hearing of the crowds at Utica College Hockey games, he knew this was the perfect market for their AHL team.
Gilman says, “When we first started speaking with Robert Esche and Frank DuRoss and came and saw the building and told us that Utica College draws 3,400 to 3,500 a game we knew that this was a fertile hockey market.”