Park City skates toward the playoffs
Since the team on paper looked evenly matched with the Park City High School hockey team, it was a little surprising to see the Miners skate away with a lopsided 16-6 victory over the Skyline Eagles on Wednesday night at the Park City Ice Arena.
But then, that sort of tells the story behind prep hockey in the state of Utah, where many of the top athletes are also members of hockey travel teams, which often take priority over their high school programs.
This was the plight of the Eagles on Wednesday night who only had six skaters and just one goalie, with their five top players away for club competition.
"Coaches deal with this all the time," Park City’s Park City head coach Bruce Foster said.
Robert Repko and Will Parry are also travel players, but with just two, Foster rarely feels the same impact. Not to mention that Foster feels that Repko would do anything to play a hockey game.
"He’s so addicted to hockey that he’d walk 50 minutes to a game," Foster said.
But take nothing away from Park City. Playing with a full and healthy line-up, the Miners were able to get plenty done on the ice. With good puck movement and well-executed plays, they were able to get five goals in the first period, followed by eight in the second and three in the third. Foster was especially pleased at how cleanly excited the game was, and is hoping that the team has cleared up a lot of bad habits from earlier in the season.
Foster is playing with the fullest lineup he has seen all year. Right wing Greg DuBois, who has been battling a myriad of injures all season, is finally healthy. Foster has also had enough strong play from his offense that he was able to move Grey Robbins from his temporary position as a forward back to defense.
"Grey is absolutely performing above expectations," Foster said. "We now have five solid defensemen."
Foster will also get star player Colby Vaughan back from a two-game suspension as well as his son, Michael, from a one-game penalty.
The only component he is missing is Laura Kubicki, who moved back to Ohio to finish the season with the national club team.
With the Skyline win, the Miners are now sitting at 7-7 with just two games to go before the playoffs. They will play both Davis and Judge in the coming week, two teams with similar records that Park City should match up well with. Foster said he is excited to play with the three lines he would like to use in the postseason.
"This is a great opportunity," Foster said. "All in all, we are in good shape."
In the postseason, the Miners will be competing with other middle-of-the-pack teams in a round-robin style tournament to capture the fourth and final spot in the championship round. The top three finishers in the regular season will take the top three spots.
Foster said he is thrilled about the postseason setup. Although the Miners dropped games to the top five teams, the team played well in all of them.
"I feel in every game we can be very competitive," he said. "If our guys play smart hockey, I believe we can upset anyone."
The Miners will travel to play Davis at the South Davis Recreation Center in Bountiful at 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday and Judge Memorial on Friday at 8 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex.
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