'Pink the Rink' Night A Success
It sometimes takes a hockey team some time to find its true identity. Over the past few weeks, the Utica Comets have begun to find theirs on the ice, with points in six straight games, five of which being wins. And on Friday, with the rival Syracuse Crunch in town, the Comets showed their true colors off the ice as well. And that color was pink.
Utica defeated Syracuse 3-1 at the first "ÂPink The Rink' night at The AUD. Pink was the theme of the evening as the Comets welcomed breast cancer survivors, their families and supporters to The AUD for a special evening. A sold out crowd of 3,815, one that had been sold out for two weeks prior to puck drop mind you, was on hand as the Comets supported the fight for the cure against breast cancer.
The hometown team wore special pink themed jerseys with a normally blue and green auditorium covered with shades of pink throughout the historic arena. The glass behind both nets was glamored up by pink stickers and ribbons, while the railings around the concourse were wrapped in pink ribbons.
The Comets got the party started early in the morning as breast cancer survivor Leslie Leone shaved two of our players head prior to game time. Wingers Darren Archibald and David Marshall each surrendered their hair to support the cause.
Every fan in attendance was given a pink towel at the door as Comets faithful decked The AUD in pink, while the first 1,000 women in attendance were also given a pink carnation. Comets and Auditorium staff alike were adorned in pink apparel as they joined in the fight.
Breast cancer survivor Vivian Veezy kicked off the on ice festivities as she dropped the ceremonial first puck prior to the start of the game. An emotionally charged national anthem followed and set the tone for the game to come.
Pink was the color of passion as the crazed hockey fanatics of the Mohawk Valley waved their rally towels proudly and created a special scene at The AUD with a sea of pink every time the Comets scored. For the second time this season, the Comets fed off of a sold out Auditorium and delivered a victory over a rival foe.
Following the game, the Comets saved possibly their best for last, as they auctioned off each of the game worn jerseys to a large group of fans that remained at The AUD after the game. The in-game hero, Joacim Eriksson, was the highest selling jersey, going to a lucky fan for $4,500. Teammate Darren Archibald also cleared the 4,000-dollar mark and in total, the Comets raised $35,000 from the jersey auction alone. Proceeds went to the Breast Care Center of The Regional Cancer Center at Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare.
"It is with deep gratitude that we thank the Utica Comets for Pink the Rink night," Nancy Borden, executive director of The Regional Cancer Center, said. "Fighting cancer is a team effort and we appreciate their support in the fight against breast cancer. Our thanks to the community and the Comets for their generosity, you helped us make a difference for our patients and families!"
50/50 Winner Allison Rowlands and her son
A subplot of Comet games all season has been a remarkably high 50/50 total, with half of every total going to the Comets Save of the Day Foundation. Friday evening's pot had a bit of a unique twist, with the foundation donating its share to the benefit the St. Luke's.
In an incredibly fitting manner, it was a story worthy of a queen's ransom that took home the prize. Allison Rowlands, a season ticket holder and breast cancer survivor, attended the game with her son Ryan who was her rock during her battle.
"When I lost my hair and could not come out of my room through my tears, it was Ryan who put his arms around me and told me he loved me and that everything was going to be okay," Rowlands said. "So this is fitting that he was with me as I won this money."
As always, Comet fans delivered in a big way, as the pot broke not only a team record, but also a 2013-14 AHL record, with the jackpot hitting $15,404. Records like these seem to be just another brick in the wall for the Comets these days, as the AHL's best fans continue to show why they are exactly that.
When the season comes to a close this spring, Friday evening's game will rank right up there with the most memorable moments of 2013-14. After the show of support that the Comets community brought out to the Auditorium, we cannot wait to bring back "ÂPink the Rink' night next year.
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American Hockey League Stories from February 3, 2014
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