Park City Pioneers return to town this weekend |

Park City Pioneers return to town this weekend

Christopher Kamrani, The Park Record

At 10-4-0, the Pioneers would like to run the table in their last six regular-season games, especially since they’re the Park City Pioneers once again.

After moving the franchise to Salt Lake City in July 2011, the Pioneers have returned to Park City and are ready to get the crowds back to packing the stands at the Park City Ice Arena.

"I think it’ll be a pickup from where we left off," said David Imonti, captain of the Pioneers. "We want to show these fans we’re back and better than ever."

The Pioneers will make their 2012 local debut this weekend at the Park City Ice Arena as they host the Aspen Leafs in a two-game series slated for Feb. 24-25.

Imonti said the squad still maintains its core of players, but added that every season the club must tweak the roster after players move on to other organizations and cities.

"We lose one or two guys every year," he said. "We seem lucky enough to replace them with adequate, if not better, talent."

A recent arrival is PJ Nelson, a forward from Sioux Falls, S.D., who played collegiate hockey at Arizona State University. A player for Park City’s rival Utah County Blizzard a year ago, Nelson has brought refreshing pace to the Pioneers’ front line.

"He’s a good player and he’s one of our contributing guys," Imonti said.

Winger Brian Babbitt, from Cleveland, Ohio, a former player at the University of Toledo, has given Park City another weapon in its offensive arsenal.

"He just moved out here last year and he’s probably one of our best players," Imonti said. "He’s a winger, a good player and one of our top scorers."

As for this weekend’s games, Imonti said Aspen is the ideal team to welcome the Pioneers back to town.

"They’re good," he said. "I think it’s going to be close games both nights. It’ll probably be one of our better opponents this year. I think it will be a good opponent to welcome us home with.

"They work hard, they’re clean but very skilled, and they should give us good games."

Imonti said the Pioneers are chomping at the bit to return to their old stomping grounds and are ready to show the fans their appreciation.

"We’ve had great support here," he said. "The players love everything about the whole experience. We have a couple things up our sleeve, trying to one-up last year. Hopefully it goes off without a hitch; nothing really major, some ‘finishing touches.’"

Both Friday and Saturday night’s games are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. at the Park City Ice Arena. This will be the Pioneers’ last home series until March 23-24, when Jackson Hole comes to town.

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