Miners finish season in fourth place | ParkRecord.com

Miners finish season in fourth place

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff

It was a whirlwind weekend for the Park City High School hockey team to say the least. The team played three games in four days to finish fourth in the state playoffs.

The action started on Friday when the Miners faced off with nemesis East High. When the two teams met during the regular season, the Miners ruined East’s then-perfect season, skating away with the easy victory. But in the rematch, East came prepared.

At first, it looked like once again Park City would win the game easily, quickly shooting to a 4-1 lead in the first period, but East slowly crept back in the second period, eventually tying the Miners and forcing a momentum change.

When East finally pulled ahead at 5-4, the Miners did their best to bring the game back, but when two Park City players were ejected from the game, the tide quickly turned. At the beginning of the third period, Robert Repko was ejected with a game misconduct followed by Walker Dunavant two minutes later, ejected for a combination of fighting and a head butt.

With just three players left on the ice, the Miners had to play a zone defense and East took advantage, scoring three quick goals. the end of the game, East had outscored Park City to the tune of 11-4.

"We had control of that game and could’ve contained our opponent, but the wheels fell off instead," said Park City head coach Dave Decker.

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The loss sent the Miners into the consolation bracket, where they would have to win five games to get back to the championship game, and the next one without Repko or Dunavant.

Luckily, the Miners were up to the challenge in their next game on Saturday in Logan, playing what Decker called, "their best game of the year," and sending them into the final four competition of the playoffs with a decisive 4-0 shutout against the Northridge Knights.

"I have never prouder of this team then I am today," said Decker on Saturday. "Last night’s defeat was crushing, but they went home, dug deep and found the resolve needed to stay in this tournament we still have a couple of tough games to go, but they are champions already."

The significant moment in that game came at 7:59 in the third period when David Paskoski knocked down a break-out pass from the Northridge defensemen and centered the puck to Grey Robbins, who was left unattended in front of the net and knocked the puck in. Austin Keller, Christoffer Dohrn and Brandon Beebe scored the other three goals.

Goalie Will Parry faced 27 shots, recording his third shut-out in the playoffs.

"Will played flawlessly," Parry said. "For a goalie to come back this morning and play like he did after the game we had last night, is astonishing."

Joining Park City in the final four were Timpanogos, Brighton and East.

The first game to determine the state championship pitted Park City against Timpanogos on Monday night in Salt Lake. The two teams were well matched in speed and ability and kept the game close until the waning moments of the game, when Timpanogos pulled ahead to win 3-1. Beebe scored the Miners only goal.

"These two teams could play 10 games and go 5-5," Decker said. "They are very well matched I take my hat off to Timpanogos."

The Miners were still without the help of Dunavant, but Repko said it actually inspired the team.

"It lets everyone step up and do more to help the team," Repko said.

Decker felt that with the Park City defensemen holding the puck a bit too long, mixed with Timpanogos’ ability to get to the puck, may have cost the Miners. But what really affected the Miners were two unfortunate penalties for too many men on the ice when a player called line changes.

The second time the mistake was made, it was followed by a slashing call, leaving only three men on the ice. Timpanogos capitalized on the opportunity, scoring the game-winning goal with a little over a minute left on the clock.

"Those were two inexcusable penalties," Decker said. "That hurt us."

Despite the Miners’ season ending loss, Decker was still pleased with their overall performance.

"Our mission this season was to improve as a team and as individuals. This is further in the playoffs than any Park City team has ever been," he said.

Repko said that the best part was how hard the team played in their final game.

"I know everybody tried their best," Repko said. "To know everyone gave their all makes it better."

In just his first season as head coach, Decker took the team from a relative unknown to a place of prominence in the prep hockey scene.

"We did great," Repko said. "We went from being the underdog to being a force on the ice."

The Miners will lose a number of seniors, but Decker is confident that the Miners will be strong again next year.

"You always think its going to fall apart and then people get people get bigger and stronger," he said.

The eventual state champion will be determined on either Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

Christine Decker contributed to this report.