The Utica Comets joined the American Hockey League as the league’s newest franchise and moved into The AUD for the 2013-14 season.
On June 14th, the Vancouver Canucks announced that their new AHL affiliate will be moved to Utica, New York, where the renovated Auditorium played home to an AHL team for the first time since the Utica Devils moved to Albany in 1993. The Comets nickname honors hockey’s history in the Mohawk Valley, which dates back to the Mohawk Valley and Clinton Comets in the early to mid 1990’s.
Travis Green was named as the first head coach in team history on July 23, 2013, joining the Comets from the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. The Comets played their first game in franchise history on October 11, 2013 at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester but lost 4-1 to the Rochester Americans. Pascal Pelletier scored the franchise’s first goal at the 13:28 mark of the third period. The Comets took to the ice at home for the first time in front of a sold out AUD on October 23, 2013 as they welcomed the Albany Devils to town. Frank Corrado scored the Comets first goal on home ice with 6:48 to play in the game. Green named Colin Stuart the first captain in team history on October 30, 2013. The Comets picked up their first Comets victory at The AUD on November 23, as Joacim Eriksson shut out the Rochester Americans, 2-0, in front of an electric sold-out crowd. After going winless in the first ten games, the Comets ended the regular season with a record of 35-32-9, four points shy of clinching the playoffs.
The following season, the Comets compiled a record of 47-20-9 for a North Division title and clinching the first playoff berth in team history. The team was lead by captain Cal O’Reilly and the team rolled to the Calder Cup Finals meeting the Manchester Monarchs. The Comets fell short losing 4-1 in the series.
The 2015-16 season saw another playoff built year. Alex Biega was named team captain but was recalled to Vancouver for a majority of the season. The team was shifted to the Eastern Conference and finished with a record of 38-26-12. The first round opponent was new division rival, the Albany Devils. For the first time in team history, the Comets were beaten in the first round, losing the best-of-five series by a 3-1 margin.
With assistant coach Paul Jerrard departing for the NHL, Jason King was hired to join Nolan Baumgartner as the assistants to Travis Green in the 2016-17 season. The Comets overcame a slow start to the season and climbed out from the worst position in the North Division to compete for a playoff spot. The season mirrored the original season as the Comets narrowly missed the postseason by four points again. The team failed to clinch on the final day of the season finishing with an identical record as 2013-14, 35-32-9.