How sweep it is for Pioneers
In front of their largest home crowd to date, the Park City Pioneers hosted a two-game series which captain David Imonti called "some of the best games we’ve ever played."
In sum, it was an unforgettable weekend for local hockey.
The Pioneers defeated the Jackson Hole Moose 5-4 in overtime Friday night and carried that momentum over into Saturday’s game, winning 5-4 in regulation in front of a crowd of more than 400 spectators.
In Friday’s come-from-behind victory, Jackson Hole came out of the gates hot, taking a 3-2 lead after the first period.
But once the second period rolled around, the Pioneers fought back and stifled the Moose defensively.
"We kind of clamped down on them," Imonti said.
Forward Aaron Burrell buried two goals for the Pioneers, while Mike Adamek notched a goal and two assists. But no one was more important for Park City than rookie Ben Wilner a midseason acquisition and former player at the University of Utah who finished off the Moose with the game-winning penalty shot.
"They made it happen," Imonti said of that trio of players.
Saturday’s game followed much of the same script from Friday’s thriller as the Pioneers went down 2-1 early and had to scrap their way back.
Park City’s four second-period goals would prove to be the difference against Jackson Hole Saturday. Erik Milliron had two goals in the game, none more impressive than his second that saw him slice through three defenders and finish off the magnificent play with a one-armed shot into the net.
"It was beautiful," Imonti said.
Michael Diersen had two assists Saturday, while Josh Angevine also tallied a goal for Park City.
"There was great pace, and it was pretty physical," said Imonti of the weekend set. "It was a good, clean game; a pretty evenly-matched series. Most of us are sore from all the hard work."
The Pioneers ended their regular season winning six of their last seven games, which includes a five-game winning streak.
Imonti gives credit to the cast of blue-collar players who helped the team tally wins as of late, unlike last season when Park City was able to rely on a few star players to carry the team to victory.
"We have our best players dress every game," Imonti said. "And we have to work hard every single night."
Imonti said adding talents like Wilner and forward Matt Long brought big pieces to the team’s puzzle and that this team has just found a way to win.
"They help pace the team," Imonti said. "Everyone’s doing their part."
With the regular season over, the team, now 11-7, will face tough questions in the off-season following the playoff series against Utah County in early April. Being able to add impact players to the team is important for the team’s future.
"It will help us sustain long-term success," he said.
As for long-range aspirations, Imonti said his team’s ability to build may lead to a special spot.
"Maybe make a trip to a national tournament," he said.
“Even the dogs were celebrating the reemergence of the sun.”