The Comets faded down the stretch, but still managed to finish the season strong.
“To win the last two games at home and show our fans how much they mean to us was great,” head coach Trent Cull said. “The guys have been playing really hard for each other even when there’s been nothing to play for lately.”
For a good portion of the season, Utica appeared poised to make it back to the playoffs.
“We kind of got depleted with injuries and call-ups to Vancouver,” Zack MacEwen said. “That’s what the AHL is though. You can’t really use it as an excuse. You have to try to find a way to win every night.”
Although the victories were too few and far between, the Comets feel they at least gave themselves a shot.
“A lot of them could have went either way, so you kind of have to look at the bright side,” MacEwen said. “You can’t get down on yourself too much and you just use it to keep going.”
The Comets graduated several players to the NHL, including goalie Thatcher Demko, defensemen Ashton Sautner and Guillaume Brisebois and forward Adam Gaudette.
“I love to see that our guys are playing in the NHL,” Cull said. “It is a development league and we’re doing good. You’re happy to feel like you’re making a difference. These players are almost like your kids. You’re a proud papa when you see them go play in the NHL.”
MacEwen got his first taste at the next level, appearing in four games for Vancouver. He also set a career-high with 22 goals.
“I’m really happy with the season I had,” MacEwen said. “I kept making strides to get better and I was getting the results that I liked. There’s always room for improvement. It’s going to be another hard summer of training and (I hope to) come back next summer hopefully even better.”
Sunday’s win over the Crunch concluded season number six of Comets hockey and the second one for Cull in Utica.
“I’m very proud to have coached this group,” Cull said. “I’m a lucky guy to have such good leaders in that room.”
The Comets will begin the 2019-20 season this October at the Adirondack Bank Center.