Miners beat Murray 3-2
You ever wonder why hockey is played in three periods?
Ask that question out loud in your best Andy Rooney voice.
Think about it. Football, you have quarters and halves. Basketball, quarters and halves. Soccer, halves. Why not thirds in hockey? Maybe it’s a math thing.
At Wednesday night’s game pitting Park City against the Murray Spartans at the Park City Ice Arena, the "period" reference was fitting somehow; each period had its own identity. But in the end, the result was much the same as the entire season has been for the Miner hockey team — a 3-2 win — pushing the team’s season record to a remarkable 12-1-1.
The first period could have been known as the Miners’defensive period. Murray came out with high energy and kept Park City hemmed in for much of the 13-minute period. Willy Fobair is the Spartans’ main man, carrying the puck up from his defenseman post and scoring 28 goals in the 11-game regular season. But the Park City defense and excellent goaltending from Jackson Mercer kept Fobair off the scoreboard in the first period. Murray outshot Park City 12-7, but the period ended without a goal.
The second period could have been called Park City’s turnaround period. It was as if someone had hit Starbucks between periods and put double-shot lattes in the Miner water bottles. The home team outshot the Spartans 11-4 and dominated play but, despite some good chances from all three lines, couldn’t score. The game remained scoreless through two.
The third will be known as the period of redemption. A costly turnover at center ice set Fobair loose in space early in the period. Two dekes later, the score was 1-0 Murray at the 11:32 mark. Would this be a night, like the Bingham game earlier in the season, where one dominant scorer would create havoc?
"Not so fast" was the collective Park City response as any advancing Spartan was knocked off the puck before entering the Miner zone. There wouldn’t be any more defensive lapses. In fact, defense changed the game.
Nixon Barber, center on the number two line, was aggressively forechecking on a Park City penalty kill midway through the period. He forced the Murray defenseman back into his own zone and then tenaciously tied him up. The defender fell and panicked a bit. In an attempt to move the puck out of trouble, he pushed a hand pass through Barber’s skates. Unbeknownst to him Park City’s Noah Pranschke had followed Barber into the zone. He intercepted the hand pass and wristed it past the Murray goalie for a shorthanded goal that knotted the score 1-1 at 6:44.
Then Park City’s number one line got down to its usual business — scoring. Right wing Casey Sederman, the Miners’ leading scorer, took an outlet pass deep in the defensive zone, wove his way through would-be defenders and ripped a wrist shot under the glove of the Spartan goalie for an unassisted goal at 4:39.
Three minutes later, center Harry Hanskat fed left wing TJ Mayo just inside the Murray blue line. Mayo broke in free and scored five-hole to put Park City up 3-1.
Murray then pulled its goalie and applied the pressure. An off-speed dribbler got past Mercer with 54 seconds remaining but that was all Murray could muster. Final score: 3-2 Park City.
"I think we showed great perseverance scratching out of that one-goal deficit," Miner Head Coach Aaron Dufford said afterwards. "Ultimately, as we move through the playoffs, we need to be used to tight games with less scoring. Defensively, we are going to have greater responsibilities and we need to tighten up on the opportunities we allow."
Park City, which ended the regular season as the state’s third-ranked team, opens the playoffs this coming Wednesday at home at 7 p.m. against the Davis Darts. Make plans to be there and be loud. And remember to follow the team on Facebook, Park City Miners High School Hockey.
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Court report: Week of June 14