Bested by East
For the first period of play on Wednesday night at the Park City Ice Arena, the Park City Miners’ hockey club had their biggest rival, East High, on the ropes.
Scoring at the beginning and end of the period on goals from newcomer Colby Vaughan, the Miners led the Leopards 2-1 until the start of the second period when East, one of the top-ranked teams in the state, tied it up and scored five more goals after that to win 7-2.
The addition of Vaughan seems to have been an act of the hockey gods for Park City. The junior-level player from Frederick, Md., just moved into the area and brought his East Coast brand of hockey with him. Not only was he an offensive and defensive juggernaut in his first game for Park City, but he also stands above six feet and should be a force to be reckoned with as the season moves on.
Vaughan quickly learned about the Park City-East rivalry and did his best to help his team make a stand against the Leopards. East has always been a nemesis for the Miners, but after last year the matchup has become a bit of a war. Park City had a senior-heavy, talent-laden team last year, and it was East that knocked the Miners out of a legitimate shot at the title in the playoffs. Ever since then, Wednesday’s game has been circled in red on the calendar for Park City.
On Wednesday, the Miners came out hard, but started to scramble in the last two period as the fast-skating, quick-thinking Leopards made six goals. East boasts four players who play on club travel teams, which means they are some of the best in the state.
"When you are dealing with four kids that travel, they just couldn’t respond," Park City head coach Bruce Foster said.
Still, according to Foster, this had less to do with exhaustion as with just getting things figured out.
"It wasn’t so much that they were tired," he said. "In the first two periods, we were playing more disciplined hockey. In the third, we just started focusing more on chasing the puck."
Mid-season, the Miners are still trying to figure out that right combination. With Gray Robbins back from injury and the addition of Vaughan, Foster now has enough manpower for three strong lines but needs to figure out who plays best together. He said that once he figures that out, the number in the win column should quickly rise.
Park City was also without the help of Robert Repko, a game-changing player from last year’s squad whose height and scoring abilities make a big difference on the team. Repko was suspended for one game after an infraction in the Fremont game in early November.
Foster felt that the Miners skated with the Leopards for much of the game, but he would like to see many more shots on goal. East made a whopping 41 shots in the game compared a paltry 10 by the Miners.
"They outshot us quite a bit," Foster said.
Both teams committed their fair share of penalties with the Leopards’ Nic Hadley and Park City’s Vaughan committing the bulk of them. Vaughan said he is still adjusting to the West Coast style of hockey and is used to a more aggressive style of defense.
"It’s a learning experience," Vaughan said. "I get so caught up in the game, it’s hard to bring it down."
Foster is anxiously waiting to see what else Vaughan will add to the team. Vaughan has already talked about leading the Miners in strategy drills and increasing their determination to win.
But for right now, the Miners was pretty frustrated to lose to East on their home ice.
"It’s a big loss. It’s no question," Foster said. "We just need to look forward and build on that."
But, Foster is still excited to see where the season will go from here.
"A lot of good things came out of this," he said. "We played them tough and next time we will have Repko back. The kids skated hard and left their heart out on the ice."
The Miners will play again Wednesday Dec. 3 against the Viewmont Vikings at 8:15 p.m. at the South Davis Recreation Center.
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Park City officials are preparing to take what is considered to be an important step in protecting the Treasure land from wildfires. City Hall in early June requested proposals from firms interested in the work.