The Park City Pioneers came out shooting in the first period of Friday night's action against the Las Vegas Hookers and didn't stop shooting until the weekend series was over. Park City scored 17 goals in two games to earn a series split at the Park City Ice Arena.
Unfortunately for Park City, Las Vegas' goalie, Mike Katz, was outstanding on Friday night, stopping all 21 shots sent his way in the first period. He'd ultimately allow four goals, but only after the Hookers were well on their way to an 8-4 victory.
Though the Park City offense was getting plenty of shots, Pioneer forward/coach David Imonti said all the luck was on Las Vegas' side.
"We outplayed them," he said. "Their goalie came up huge. It's one of those things where the bounces didn't go our way."
The Pioneers did find the back of the net in the second and third periods, with Sean Baron, Brian Babbitt, Erik Milliron and Aaron Burrell scoring goals to close the gap.
But their defense struggled all night long, allowing the Hookers' Cody Incollingo to pick up a hat trick one minute, eight seconds into the second period. He would finish the game with four goals.
Imonti said that while goalkeeper Eric Moldenhauer didn't have his best game Friday, the defense didn't do anything to help him, either.
"Our defense was suspect at best," he said.
Alec Hazelwood added two goals for Las Vegas, and Mike Reed and Rob Sayer each scored once.
Saturday was quite the opposite for the Pioneers.
Two Pioneers netted hat tricks on the night - Burrell (three goals, one assist) and Tom Gatta (three goals, two assists). Tommy Rupp also scored a goal, but was more effective with his passes, notching three assists.
Goalie Kyle Gover had a strong performance between the pipes, keeping the Hookers from matching Friday night's offensive explosion.
Saturday night also marked the return of coach Dave Decker, who coached the Pioneers in their first two seasons before taking last year off.
"His addition has given us some stability and the leadership we've needed in order to play up to our potential," Imonti said.
By earning a series split, the Pioneers are now 2-7 on the season. Imonti said this has been the team's worst start ever, but things are going to improve with Decker at the helm.
"We've got to keep our morale up and keep going," he said. "We've been in every game. We've got the talent, but we're losing to teams that are inferior to us."
Park City will be back in action on Jan. 18 and 19 at home against the Rebels of Salt Lake. The Pioneers are 0-3 against the Rebels this season.