Vancouver, B.C. – Canucks Sports & Entertainment announced today a new affiliation agreement for an American Hockey League (AHL) franchise in Utica, New York. The organization will be known as the Utica Comets and will play at the Utica Memorial Auditorium under the management of Mohawk Valley Garden (MVG), beginning in the 2013.14 season.
MVG is led by former NHL goaltender Robert Esche and long-time AHL owner and executive Frank DuRoss.
“We look forward to a new AHL affiliation and the development of our prospects in Utica, New York,” said Canucks President and General Manager Michael D. Gillis. “There was a strong interest in bringing an AHL team back to Utica and a real commitment to provide a positive environment for the growth and success of players in the Canucks system.”
“Vancouver is a first class organization, and we are proud to partner with them here in Utica to develop their future NHL talent,” DuRoss said.
“As someone who benefitted greatly from playing in the AHL on the way to the NHL, I know how important the AHL experience is to player development. We will make this a top notch experience for both the Canucks, and their prospects,” added Esche, who played in the NHL for both the Philadelphia Flyers and Phoenix Coyotes.
The city of Utica has a history with the American Hockey League. From 1987 to 1993, they housed the Utica Devils, the affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. It is also the former home of the Mohawk Valley Stars (Atlantic Coast Hockey League), the Utica Bulldogs (United Hockey League), Utica Blizzard (United Hockey League), Mohawk Valley Prowlers (United Hockey League) and the Mohawk Valley IceCats (North Eastern Hockey League).