Such was the case Wednesday night at the Park City Ice Arena, as the Park City High School boys' hockey team opened its 2012-13 season with four new skaters on the varsity side. The team also had lost its top two scorers from the 2011-12 campaign, as both had moved out of town.
But worrying about getting the hockey equivalent of a Don Cherry tie was all for naught, as the Miners gave the large opening night crowd the perfect present, a 6-1 thrashing of the Alta Hawks.
Park City lost Derek Sederman and Nicky Garland from last year's playoff team that ended with an 11-5-1 record. But coming in to replace them were two freshmen forwards, Sam Amidon from Connecticut and Will Miele from New Jersey, along with sophomore defenseman Sam Groves from Iowa. Ironically, while the Miners lost Sederman to the Alta team, the team gained his older brother Casey Sederman, who is a senior center.
A good omen for the future came midway through the first period, when junior wing Noah Pranschke crossed the Hawk blueline and ripped a wrist shot on the Alta net. The Hawk goalie, Josh Larson, made the initial save, but new Miner Amidon was there to put in the rebound to give Park City a 1-0 lead with 9:51 left in the first.
The Miners outskated the Hawks the entire game, but the first period was especially Energizer Bunny-esque -- the rink looked tilted into the Alta defensive zone. Still, after Amidon's initial goal, it took another five minutes until Pranschke scored on a feed from Groves. Score 2-0 Park City with 5:03 left in the period.
The team's contagious energy really paid dividends in the last two minutes of the first. Sophomore wing Will Radovan scored on a feed from junior linemate TJ Mayo at the 2:25 mark. Then, just 30 seconds later, sophomore wing Carson Walker benefitted from a scrum in from of the Hawk net, stuffing in Park City's fourth goal of the period at the 1:55 mark. Alta scored with 48 seconds left in the period, but there was a feeling in the building that the game was over.
The second and third periods were comparatively quiet on the scoreboard, but midway through the second, Casey Sederman provided a bit of dramatic irony to the evening.
Casey had stopped playing hockey for the last four years in favor of competitive soccer. But this summer, when his younger brother left the Miners and transfered to Alta, Casey decided to finish his PCHS senior year back on the ice. Fate scheduled the two to face off in Park City's season opener.
Derek and Casey were both on the ice when Carson Walker fed Casey in front of the Hawk net. Casey pivoted and ripped a wrist shot past the glove of Larson, giving Park City a 5-1 lead and its newest player his first point of the season.
From there, all that was left was for August Masquelier, another member of the Miners' huge junior class, to add an unassisted goal with 2:21 left in the game. Final 6-1 Park City.
Park City head coach Aaron Dufford, the mad scientist behind the impressive play from the Miners, sees areas that need work. "We seemed to fire on most of our cylinders tonight," he said, but added this caveat, "We scored goals, which is important, but staying out of the box and controlling our defensive zone are critical areas that need improvement. We have a long season and now have some areas to focus on."
Next up, Park City will face the Utah County Independent South Lone Wolves at the Peaks Ice Arena in Provo on Thursday, Oct. 11. The Miners will then return home on October 24 against Riverton. All home games are now at the earlier start time of 7 p.m.