The Park City Pioneers, who had struggled in their first six games of the season, exploded for eight goals in their seventh game Saturday to earn a split in last weekend's series with the Sun Valley Suns. The Pioneers are now 1-6 in their first season in the eight-team Mountain West Hockey League.
"This season we've had a hard time scoring goals, and we've finally started to click a little bit," said team captain David Imonti.
"Our biggest problem this year is we haven't got any bounces (going our way)," Imonti said. "Finally, this weekend we got those bounces and they lead to confidence against good teams like Sun Valley."
He noted that many of the team's six losses have come by one- or two-goal margins.
One of those one-goal losses came in the first game of the series Friday night in Sun Valley, won by the Suns 4-3. "The second game we were lucky enough to really jump on them," Imonti said. The final score in that game was 8-3. He said the 11 goals scored by the Pioneers over the weekend were almost as many as their total in the first five games.
Leading the scoring for the Pioneers last weekend was the team's third forward line, which is composed of Imonti, Matt Long and Rob Christie. That line generated four goals in the two games. "There's usually not a lot of production out of that group," said Imonti, referring to his own line in the third person.
Also playing a key role, with two goals in the two games, was defenseman Kory Scoran, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, who now lives in Boise, Idaho. Imonti said that Scoran, who joined the team in Sun Valley for the weekend series, has played in about 300 professional games in his career. Forward Brian Babbitt also scored two goals, forward Tom Gatta had a goal and two assists, and forward Tommy Rupp, who formerly played for the Rebels of Salt Lake City, had two assists. Goaltender Eric Moldenhauer had a busy weekend, stopping 70 of 76 Sun Valley shots.
After a Christmas break, the Pioneers will return to action with a two-game series Dec. 28-29 at the Park City Ice Arena against the Las Vegas Hookers (yep, Hookers). Imonti said he expects a fast, physical series.
"We've probably got the most talent in the league," he said. "We just have to put it together."