UTICA - Utica Comets President Robert Esche, in conjunction with Chapter 490 Military Order of the Purple Heart, announced on Monday that the Utica Comets will be honored as the First Purple Heart Hockey Club. The Comets are only the eighth professional sports team in the country, the second team in New York State, and the first hockey team to be awarded this honor.
Joe Fraccola, Commander of CNY Chapter 490, made the official announcement during a press conference at 72 Tavern & Grill.
"Watching the Utica Comets and the fans honoring our veterans as Hometown Heroes displays the tremendous patriotism within our area," expressed Fraccola. "It recognizes the sacrifices made by our veterans, our active military men & women and their families."
"In all my years in the sport of hockey, this is by far the biggest honor for not just the organization, but for me personally," expressed Esche. "The military has always been near and dear to me, with numerous relatives of mine serving throughout their lives, and I will never forget their sacrifices so that us athletes can hit the ice or field every day."
During a pregame ceremony on the ice, the Comets will unveil a Purple Heart banner, followed by a puck drop with representation from each major conflict since World War II. The Color Guard from 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry Regiment of the New York Army National Guard will also present the colors during the on-ice ceremony. The first 1,000 fans in attendance during Friday's game will receive Purple Heart Military Paracord Bracelets.
The announcement of the Purple Heart game rounds out a fun-filled Veterans Day Weekend, including an Alabama Concert at the Adirondack Bank Center the next day on November 10. Veterans are encouraged to visit the box office for a discount on Alabama tickets, with proof of service.