Miners shine against Copper Hills
So it wasn’t the hard-fought, headline-grabbing win against the league leader that the Park City Miners hockey team was becoming accustomed to these last few weeks, but their 11-2 win against Copper Hills Wednesday was still gratifying.
"It was a fun game, even though it was so lopsided," said Park City head coach David Decker. "They showed good sportsmanship even though they weren’t the best team."
It allowed the Miners to play some of the younger junior varsity players and gave the starters a welcome break after a number of intense games. Decker is hoping the extra playing time for the more inexperienced members of the Park City team will help them when they get to the playoffs.
The easier game was also an opportunity for the team to work on improving their skills.
"It was a chance to have the time to think about the stuff we work on in practice," Decker said. "We made good passes and shots."
Decker said he has been encouraging the team to take shots from closer to the net, and was happy to see the Miners get most of their goals that way on Wednesday. Robert Repko even capitalized on one close shot from behind the net that scooted in off the goalie’s skate.
"Goalies usually make the first and second save, but rarely the third," Decker explained.
But the biggest improvement Decker saw on Wednesday night was in the quality of play. At the beginning of the season, the Miners had a tendency to play down to the level of lesser teams, but against Copper Hills, he said, they played a game they should be proud of.
"They really played up," Decker said, enthusiastically.
Copper Hills was able to get two breakaway goals, but Decker said that overall he was very impressed with the defense and offense.
He was especially impressed by the effort of Steven Cox, who had two assists, and, Decker said, played his "best game of the year." He also highlighted the efforts of Joe Hurtubise, who switched from his usual position at forward to form a six-man defense, instead of the usual five.
The best plays of the night came from Brandon Beebe — one of Park City’s stars — who’s been sidelined for much of the season with a broken collarbone. Beebe’s return brought two goals and a night’s worth of excitement. Decker wasn’t sure what his first night back would bring, but was happy to see he hadn’t lost a step.
"He played his usual high-flying game," Decker said.
The Miners were also able to play a fairly clean game, penalty-wise, earning only one penalty per period for small infractions — a far cry from the physical games they played against Skyline and East.
"Against a lesser team you don’t have to be as physical," Decker said.
The Miners varsity will take a break from competition over the holidays and return to the ice to face the Taylorville Warriors on Jan. 7 at 9:30 p.m. at the Acord Ice Arena in West Valley.
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