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Utica Comets to make history at the Carrier Dome

By ANNA MEILER

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WKTV) -- The Utica Comets will help make history next season, as they go head-to-head with the Syracuse Crunch in the first pro hockey game ever held in the Carrier Dome.

"All you have to do is be involved in sports to know this is one of the most intimidating places to come in and play," said Robert Esche, the president of the Utica Comets.

Get ready for the Frozen Dome Classic on November 22, when the two AHL teams will face off in front of 30,000 fans. That's five times more than at the Utica Memorial Aud.

"A player looks for big games. You gain so much by playing in a big game in front of a lot of people. It prepares you more for the NHL down the road and this is the perfect opportunity for a lot of those people," said Esche.

The ice rink will be set up similar to the Carrier Dome's basketball configuration, but they will have less than a week to turn orange to white.

"Building a 200 by 85 rink in a place that's not meant to build it. There's no piping underneath to keep the floor chilled at times, so it's a very unique process," said Jim Sarosy, the chief operating officer for the Syracuse Crunch.

The Frozen Dome Classic will be a day-long event and Utica College will also make history as they take on their big rival Oswego State.

"There's no question this has a recruiting impact. This is something that we'll get out and make sure all the young men we're trying recruit to the area know that we're part of this," said Gary Heenan, Utica College Hockey coach.

This announcement was four years in the making, before the Comets even existed as a team. But when it came to choosing a competitor the owner of The Syracuse Crunch, Howard Dolgon says the choice was easy. After a rocky start, "They are certainly one of the shining franchises in the American Hockey League."

Esche says this opportunity is a way to continue their success story.

"Now you're on a national stage where everybody in Canada, the U.S. are following Syracuse and Utica. There are towns we haven't even heard of that are talking about the Utica Comets and the Syracuse Crunch," said Esche. "That's really the building of two great cities- Syracuse, Upstate New York, Utica, it all goes hand in glove and I think it's going to be a terrific event."

Tickets go on Sale on June 24. Prices range from $20 to $50.

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