'It ain't over 'til it's over,' or 'It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings;' or maybe it's, 'Thanks for the memories.'

Feel free to pick a cliche' as they were all applicable in some way on Friday night during game 4 of the AHL's Calder Cup finals at the Utica Aud and the behavior of the fans was really telling when it comes to this community.

Some felt the series was lost as they trailed in the 3rd period to Manchester by four goals, a loss that places them on the brink of elimination.  Some seemed to feel that even with just minutes left in the 3rd period, there was still some possible way that the 'Comeback Comets' could find a way to win.  Others were holding on to the memories from this season of a team that always pulls through when they face elimination.  Whatever the reason, it was amazing to see most fans staying in their seats 'til the bitter end.

Ultimately, the Comets did lose and face possible elimination on Saturday; but, the atmosphere was almost like the mother and father sitting in the bleachers offering encouragement to their kid at the little league game even though he just gave up a grand slam home run and he was about to get yanked by the manager.

Somewhere along the way this season, these fans have gone from being enthusiasts to loyalists.

No matter what happens, this team has been just what the doctor ordered for Utica and the region.  It's given us hope beyond Boilermaker weekend, when the community comes out in droves and offers an energy that never happens during the other 51 weeks of the year.  It's given us an incredible belief that an idea that so many people thought wouldn't work, can actually succeed, sustain, grow even more and completely transform the community.

The phrase, 'we're not big enough to support that' should be removed from our minds.

About a month ago I compared this team's journey to the 1980 Olympic hockey team and their win over the then Soviet Union.  The comment drew some chuckles and I can see why.  There's no impact on world peace or a failed ideology here; but, for us in our tiny little part of the world, this means everything.

The phrase, 'we're not big enough to support that' should be removed from our minds.

It all became absolute for me on Friday when the fans started chanting 'Let's Go Comets' in the final minute of that gruesome defeat.

We can't score 3 goals in 60-seconds, right? Why then, are they on their feet delivering a rally cry?

It was pretty clear, these fans simply wanted the players to know that they were still there supporting them even though it was a pretty rough night.  It goes back to that mom and dad sitting in the bleachers supporting their kid.

That's when I realized that this team has somehow given us the ability to purge the negativity that has existed here after so many years of decline. It seems that the Comets have actually given us a chance to believe in this community once again.  It's allowed us to see that success can happen, even when everybody says it can't.

One would hope that no matter what happens on the ice in game 5, that we carry this new found hope into the future and If we do, then my whole 'Miracle on Ice' concept, might just be a fitting comparison, after all.

Only time will tell.

Bill Keeler authored this opinion piece. He's the morning host of First News with Keeler in the Morning on WIBX, Monday through Friday from 6-9 a.m..



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