Comets' President Esche reflects on Olympic experience


(WKTV) - The United States Men's Ice Hockey team opened their quest for Olympic gold in 2014 with a commanding 7-1 win over Slovakia in their first game of the group stage, Thursday.

Locally, Utica Comets President, Rob Esche, a Whitesboro native, watched the game from across the world. However, in Torino 2006, he was a part of it.

Esche, a former NHL goaltender for the Phoenix Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers, played for Team USA in the Olympics that year, backing up former New York Islanders goalie, Rick DiPietro in their quest for Gold.

While the team didn't qualify for a medal in the Games that year, Esche still reflects on his time in the Olympics as being a one-of-a-kind experience, and like nothing he has ever been a part of before.

While he may hold a sport in hockey's front offices today, Esche still has deep connections to the current U.S. Olympic hockey team that is competing overseas.

"You look at all the great General Managers in the NHL that are American born, they are General Managers for this USA Hockey team," he said. "The [head] coach Dan Bylsma, him and I played together in Springfield years and years ago. 

"There's about 6 players on the team that I played with, these people are terrific people and I think this is one of the Olympics, other than the one I was in, that I'm really pulling for so much because there are so many good people involved in USA Hockey, and I know they worked hard to create what they have."

This time around Esche may be just an excited spectator, watching Team USA compete for Olympic glory in Sochi against international powerhouses such as Russia, Canada, Sweden, and Finland, however, in 2006, he got to experience that level of competition first-hand.

His experiences have taught him just how hard it is to compete for a Gold medal in any sport, especially ice hockey, and is just one of the many reasons why he will be pulling for the Red, White, and Blue to bring home the Gold in the Sochi Winter Games this year.


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