Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
This weekend, a new host of Conference Championships showed up and showed what they can do. The city of Utica, New York played host to the pinnacle event of the Atlantic Hockey season. AIC skates home with their third Jack Riley Trophy in as many seasons, and the fans that came were treated to a superb three games of hockey.
AIC hockey had to earn a spot in the final with a tough win over the upstart Mercyhurst Lakers. Air Force then won a back-and-forth affair with RIT. For the finale, AIC won with a 7-0 shutout over Air Force to seal the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Throughout this experience, the fans were loud, the arena at the Adirondack Bank Center was run well, the venue was clean and organized well, and the experience for us was good. We say that because while the barn was not packed, the fans showed up and cheered loud for all of the games.
We will also give Atlantic Hockey and its organizers the benefit of the doubt. The site was not announced until December 9, giving organizers far less time to sell tickets than their other neutral site counterparts.
In addition, the town of Utica is a delightful one. If you get a hotel within walking distance of the rink as ours was you do not need to drive on a nice day. In addition, the food stood out. For us the best place was Craylee’s Diner with superb breakfast from cannoli pancakes to Eggs Benedict. The food there was great and the service was first class. The prices were pretty great as well. The town has so much more we hope to see in future visits as well.
From a team perspective, AIC Coordinator of Communications Seth Dussault said of the town “ Utica was a fantastic host city. The facility, staffing, and available amenities were all top-notch and it had a championship atmosphere befitting a true hockey town. I’d love to see them get an NCAA Regional down the line.” He also gave a shoutout to the Delta Hotel by Marriott where all of the teams stayed. Seth said “the hotel took great care of us and the available options for food within a small radius were plentiful and high quality. It made life easy for us.”
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