Park City Pioneers are cruising
It’s safe to say the Park City Pioneers enjoy being back in town.
With their two-game sweep over the visiting Jackson Hole Moose last weekend, the Pioneers improved to 4-0 at the Park City Ice Arena this season. Captain David Imonti said the sweep was a pretty large step forward considering the playoffs are only a few weeks away.
"We’re kind of clicking at the right time," he said.
With a 6-5 win over the Moose last Friday, followed by a 9-3 victory Saturday night, the Pioneers have won seven of their last eight outings.
In Friday’s outing, Park City’s first game in a couple weeks, after the Pioneers jumped out to an early lead, things became a big stagnant.
"Everyone was trying to get back into the swing of things," Imonti said. "We got out to a decent lead, and ran out of steam at the end. It was a close one, but it was a win."
Forward Tom Gatta had two goals in Friday’s victory, while Brian Babbitt had three assists.
In Saturday’s romp, Imonti said the game followed the opposite script from Friday’s nail-biter. The Pioneers and Moose were neck-and-neck for two periods before Park City exploded in the final period en route to the 9-3 victory.
Newcomer Braxton Green, a former Weber State University player, had three goals in the win. Imonti said goalie Kyle Gover had an impressive outing between the pipes.
"We ran away with it," he said. "We never let off the throttle. We just did the little things that we didn’t do the night before."
Next up for the Pioneers are the state playoffs, where they will face the Salt Lake Rebels in defense of their Utah Senior A State Championship series trophy. The Rebels, Imonti said, are a new club largely constructed of players from the old Utah County Blizzard, Park City’s bitter rival, and the team the Pioneers defeated in last year’s state final.
The best-of-three series is slated for April 13-14 at the Park City Ice Arena, and Imonti said he expects another weekend of fun hockey and fisticuffs.
"We’ve had some battles," he said, laughing. "The last time we played them, we had a brawl. They’re one of those teams that always seem to make it competitive. There’s definitely that hatred. We’re looking forward to beating them again."
The Pioneers will be practicing during their off time before they defend their state championship.
"We’re not going to settle for anything less than winning again," Imonti said. "Hopefully we can cap everything off this season in a big way."
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