An open letter to the hockey fans of the Mohawk Valley

Dom Reile contributes his first article to martysillegalstick.com, expressing the pride of being a hockey fan in Utica and the Mohawk Valley.

Can we all take a moment to appreciate how great of a time it is to be a hockey fan in the Mohawk Valley? I know I’m not alone when I say this but hockey season can be overwhelming. For example, between the Utica Comets and the Utica College Pioneers, you can potentially be attending games in Utica or watching them on a screen of your choice on what feels like every day. Mix in your NHL team, and it might as well BE every day. Let me paint you a picture so you can get in that mindset… Comets game night at the Adirondack Bank Center, Pioneers are on the road and the Rangers (or whoever your team is) are playing as well. At every stoppage in play, your phone is out to check scores. It’s chaos, it’s exhausting, and I love every second of it. 

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Now that the Pioneers are on winter break and there is only one Comets home game left this month it’s a great time to stop and catch our breath. While all the previously mentioned hustle and bustle of being a multi-level hockey fan keeps us engaged in games, it might be time to take it easy and stop to smell the Zamboni exhaust. Our local teams are playing EXCEPTIONALLY well and are at the top of their perspective leagues. The crowds are great as always, our building is a destination for fans and players alike, and that has now started to bring external tournaments with Atlantic Hockey Association hosting their championship here in 2022. For details on that, click on this link Atlantic Hockey Association Championship coming to Utica. Hopefully, this announcement will light a fire under getting that Nexus Center finished, and then we will really be cooking up something special – but that’s a can of worms we’re not opening today.

Jamie Bucell of the Utica College Pioneers makes his move against the Wilkes University Colonels during their game at the Adirondack Bank Center. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

Today I bring all this up to remind all of you that we have something special here right now. Not only because the New Jersey Devils came in and revitalized the Comets. Not only because year after year top tier recruits commit to the Pioneers. It’s because of YOU the fan. It’s because you follow the teams when they are on the road with the same passion you do as when they are in the building at home. It’s because you part with your hard-earned dollar for tickets and concessions week in and week out. Utica is a hockey town because of you. All of the positives of the last few years would be impossible without your support. Although sometimes we can get frustrated with things like parking and rising prices, it can be hard to remember these are symptoms of success – bad teams can’t draw money plain and simple. Don’t get me wrong parking at the Aud stinks…like really stinks. Again, bad teams can’t draw in a crowd so I’ll take it for now. So the next time you check the schedule and pull up to the rink, or flip on the game from the comfort of your home remember that your undying support helped make all of this possible. Let’s go Utica! 

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