UTICA, N.Y. - Comets forward Reid Boucher received his latest of many AHL honors in a successful seven-plus year career so far, while defenseman Brogan Rafferty earned a league award for the second day in a row, Wednesday.
Boucher was named to the AHL First All-Star Team and Rafferty was named to the Second All-Star Team, each one of six players on their respective tiers of honorees. Rafferty was selected for the AHL All-Rookie team on Tuesday.
The pair had also both been named to the AHL All-Star Classic to represent Utica in January.
It is the second time the Comets have landed a pair on end of season AHL All-Star teams. Goalie Jacob Markstrom was first team and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti was second team in 2014-15.
"It's a great honor to be recognized by the league, but I didn't do it alone," Boucher said during a Zoom video conference call, Wednesday. "We had a really good team to help me along there in Utica."
It was a career year for Boucher, who recently welcomed a second child with his wife, a girl they named Palmer. Their first child, a son, is named Brooks. Back at his home in Michigan, he said they are enjoying quality family time during the current pandemic, and only leave the house to go grocery shopping.
The 26-year-old scored 34 goals, and had 33 assists for 67 points this season, all career-highs in the AHL.
His goals and points total were both single-season Comets records, surpassing his own marks set last season in 2018-19.
With the 34 goals, he broke Darren Archibald's all-time Comets career record of 75, finishing the season with a total of 90 through three seasons in Utica. He also tied Alexandre Grenier's all-time franchise record of 175 points and likely would have shattered that if not for the March 12 suspension and eventual cancellation of the season.
Playing in 53 of the team's 61 games due to injury, Boucher finished the season second in the AHL in points, first in points per game with an average of 1.26 and is also a potential candidate for the league's MVP award.
"This is the first time I've really been recognized by the league as a top player and it's a good feeling," he said. "But it changes year-to-year so you've got to make sure that you are getting ready every season the same way to put out the same product."
With 133 career NHL games under his belt for three different franchises, Boucher did not appear in a game with the Vancouver Canucks this season prior to the suspension despite his strong play.
He said that should the season continue, he was told he would likely be among a group of Comets players that could join the Canucks' squad for a playoff push.
Comets Head Coach Trent Cull has said in the past that Boucher is a dynamic player who can put the team on his back any night.
He is a restricted free agent after this season and says he hasn't given any thought to his future with the Canucks organization up to this point.
Rafferty comes off a successful first season in the pros after a three-year career in the NCAA ranks at Quinnipiac University.
He had 45 points to break Sanguinetti's 2014-15 record of 40 for Comets single-season scoring by a defenseman. Leaguewide, he ranked third among all AHL defenseman, first among rookie defenseman and first in the AHL for assists by a defenseman.
"I'm pretty happy with the year this year," Rafferty said Tuesday after receiving the All-Rookie selection. "I think I set myself up nicely to be able to go into camp next year and try to earn my spot on the [Canucks]. Obviously, nothing is given to me or anybody, you have to go out and earn it.
"I think I surprised a lot of people this year, and even myself."
Boucher and Rafferty both said that they were confident in the group they had heading into the final playoff push, with Boucher saying it was one of the better teams he's played on as a pro with a combination of size, skill, grit and speed that made them a dangerous team to play against.
Both were disappointed they didn't get the chance to finish the season and make a postseason run with this team.
Over the past few seasons, Boucher has become a fan favorite with chants of "Bouch" ringing out frequently from the crowd at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica.
"It's awesome," said Boucher. There's not really a better feeling than when you get that kind of response."
Whatever the next step of his career holds, his experience in Utica has been a good one.
"My family and I love the city of Utica," he added. "We pretty much raised our first child there so far."