New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that the Utica Memorial Auditorium will be the new home of the minor league affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks.
The Utica Comets will play at a renovated Utica Memorial Auditorium under the management of Mohawk Valley Garden (MVG), which is led by former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Robert Esche and long-time AHL owner and executive Frank DuRoss.
The arena will be renovated with the help of $5 million US in state aid, hence Cuomo's involvement in the fanfare.
"We look forward to a new AHL affiliation and the development of our prospects in Utica, New York," Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis said in a statement. "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."
The new franchise brings the number of AHL clubs in New York State to six, joining the Rochester Americans, Syracuse Crunch, Binghamton Senators, Albany Devils and Adirondack Phantoms in the 30-team league.
Utica also has been home to the Devils of the AHL and has also had franchises in the United Hockey League and North Eastern Hockey League.
"The city of Utica has a rich hockey history and a passionate fan base," AHL president Dave Andrews said in a league statement. "We welcome the Comets to the American Hockey League and look forward to returning to the Mohawk Valley."
The Chicago Wolves were Vancouver's AHL affiliate the last two seasons, and prior to that, the Manitoba Moose.