UTICA, NY – The American Hockey League announced Thursday the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort and Casino will be hosted by the Utica Comets January 28 & 29, 2018. This will be the third time in four years the All-Star Game has been held in the state of New York; Utica hosted in 2015, and Syracuse hosted in 2016. The decision to come back to Utica was heavily impacted both by renovations to the newly named Adirondack Bank Center, and the success of the 2015 event.
The Adirondack Bank Center at the AUD (short for the Utica Memorial Auditorium) is undergoing renovations to improve the capabilities of the AUD to better serve the citizens of Utica. There will be 26,000 square feet of space added for women’s restrooms, but the change that affects seating will be the addition of suites and lodge seating to the rink. The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, was on hand at the news conference, and he spoke about the renovations and what they mean for the city of Utica, and the Comets as well.
“For decades, the Utica AUD has been a great centerpiece for Utica,” Governor Cuomo said. “And for sports and for recreation, The AUD has been the place…so the decision was made to renovate the AUD, because you want to be competitive, creative, and you want people to continue to come.”
“Why renovate it?” Cuomo went on to say. “The Comets are doing extraordinarily well at The AUD, and we applaud Mr. Esche. But we want him to do even better – we want more economic activity. The theory is that if you make an investment, you will attract more business. Today, that theory proves correct.”
The success of the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic also played a significant role in bringing the Classic back to Utica. Both the skills competition and the All-Star game itself were sellouts, and players on the ice noticed the crowd noise. Bobby Sanguinetti, who was a defenseman for Utica during the 2015 season, talked after the game in 2015 about the noise and atmosphere.
“The cheering was so loud I could not hear my name being called,” Sanguinetti said. “I watched the video board and just waved when I saw my face. It was incredible.”
Even players from rival teams like Drew Shore of the Adirondack Flames (now Stockton Heat) had great things to say after the game in 2015.
“I appreciated the atmosphere created by a lot of loud, and passionate Utica fans,” Shore told the Post-Star in Glens Falls, N.Y. in 2015 “It made it more fun, and I’m glad I wasn’t the one being booed.”
The game itself in 2015 was one for the history books as the teams combined for 26 goals, an AHL All-Star game record, in a 14-12 West victory. The game featured future NHL players like Jonathan Marchessault of the Vegas Golden Knights, Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild, and Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks. Markstrom was the only goalie to give up less than four goals in the game (two). The AHL, Utica Comets, and the city of Utica will be hoping for a similar show in 2018.
The 2018 AHL All-Star weekend in January will include two days of incredible fun! On January 28, the AHL All-Star Skills Challenge will be at the Adirondack Bank Center at the AUD in downtown Utica. Then on January 29, there will be the AHL All-Star Challenge also at the Adirondack Bank Center. All other events, such as the AHL Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony will be held at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona.
The AHL All-Star Challenge on January 29 will feature a 3-on-3 tournament between All-Stars of the league’s four divisions. There will be a round-robin portion where each division will face the other three, then the two squads with the best records will battle for the championship. Each game will be 10 minutes in length.
Utica Comets season ticket holders will have the first chance to get tickets by reserving seats beginning on October 23rd. All other tickets go on sale on November 4th, starting at 10am in person, noon online. Prices range from $39-99 and they are good for both the AHL All-Star Skills Competition and the All-Star Challenge. Information on the Hall of Fame Ceremony and other events will be announced soon.