If you’ve been to a Utica Comets home game in recent months, you may have noticed Comets players skating around the ice with flags during the pregame ceremony. No – not the AHL Utica Comets players – but rather Comets players a couple feet shorter and relatively smaller in size: the Utica Jr. Comets Elite.
The Utica Jr. Comets and Utica Jr. Comets Elite are the youth hockey teams of the Mohawk Valley Youth Hockey Association (MVYHA) providing high quality hockey, whether that is house, travel, or Elite. Recognizing the importance of hockey in the area, MVYHA changed the names of their youth hockey teams to the Utica Jr. Comets and Utica Jr. Comets Elite to support the Comets franchise and strengthen their affiliation with a professional hockey team.
But with such a high quality program came a high cost for players and their families. In 2013, the Save of the Day Foundation became a proud sponsor of the Jr. Comets to alleviate costs for ice time, registration, and travel for both the players and their families. Most recently, the Foundation helped the 2004 and 2006 Jr. Comets Elite teams travel and compete internationally in Toronto. Save of the Day helped offset the costs for the teams to take team buses provided by the Birnie Bus Company. The players and their families loaded up the buses at The AUD for the five-hour road trip, just like the AHL Comets do.
“The Save the Day Foundation has been extraordinarily generous to the Utica Jr Comets youth hockey program in so many ways,” said Jennifer Roberts, MVYHA Fundraising Coordinator and Utica Jr. Comets Elite parent. It has brought opportunities and experiences to these kids that are not readily available in other area programs; such as the use of the SportTesting equipment and USA Hockey’s IntelliGym program. It’s also allowed our teams to experience first class hockey tournaments, like the Can/Am tournament in Lake Placid where they played at the Lake Placid Olympic Center.”
The Save of the Day Foundation began giving the Jr. Comets monetary donations as part of their fitness grant to encourage teamwork while stressing what can be achieved with hard work and dedication. Bringing together diverse backgrounds, fitness efforts teach children how to face problems with fairness and strength.
“In addition to all those fun and exciting opportunities, the Save the Day Foundation has allowed the Jr. Comets to build an Elite organization where our kids can stay local, play for a premier organization, and most importantly, play at the highest levels of youth hockey where they compete against the top-ranked teams around the country,” explained Roberts. The Utica Jr Comets realize that without the Save of the Day Foundation none of these opportunities would be possible and we as an organization cannot express enough gratitude to the Foundation and the Utica Comets for making this all possible.”