It was the final home game from the season that really didn't quite constitute as season. COVID-19 restrictions constricted the Comets in their quest to bring fans back into the arena. Still, Utica found a way to survive and play every game to its fullest.

Wednesday night's game was the final home game played as a Vancouver-affilliated hockey club. New Jersey will come to town later this summer and serve as Utica's AHL team, once again.

At Wednesday's game, Utica jumped out to an early lead 3-0 and never looked back. Their shutout was spoiled mid-way through the 3rd period as the Amerks scored. It was the only goal that got past goalie Mike DiPietro as the Comets logged in a 3-1 victory.

 

Fans went out of their way to attend the game. A negative COVID test was required, or you could show your vaccination card for entry. Fans also had to wait in line and fill out a Comets wellness survey, making sure everyone was symptom-free.

Photo by Bill Keeler / WIBX

The fans who braved the obstacles were more than happy to deal with the wait to see the historic game, the Utica Comets playing at home as a Vancouver affiliate.

Prior to this pandemic, the Comets had envisioned another sell out season, but, it wouldn't happen in 2020-21. The seats in the lower level were wrapped and the covers donned sponsor mentions. And with capacity at only 25-percent, the send-off was not the type of support Comets players had come to expect over the last 8 years.

Here's what the final minute sounded and felt like with a scattered number of fans in the seats. You can't help but think about what the night would have been like without the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was not an easy season to manage and it was a difficult season for players, fans and the organization. When the AHL announced there would be no playoffs, the wind had been extinguished from the sails for both players and fans.

Still, it was an awesome and historic night of hockey for Utica and the fans who did make it in were treated to a great game. Throughout the night, the Comets showed clips from the previous 8 years and highlighted some of the great moments. Sadly, this win will go into the books as bitter sweet, because the players we've come to know as Utica's Comets, will be heading back to Vancouver next week. When and if we see them back on the ice in Utica, most likely they'll be playing for the opponent. If that situation arises, you can bet that Utica's fans will greet them back into ABC with great respect.

"Thank you Vancouver," was the sign that kept popping up all night long during the game. It was well deserved as the Canucks were there for Utica to debut this new generation of Comets. The relationship was great and now it must end and it's time to move on.

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