PCHS hockey: Fab freshmen spearhead Miners’ attack
December 22, 2011
When describing his explosive all-freshmen line, Aaron Dufford paused searching for an apt depiction.
He threw out a "Three Stooges" reference and even called them "twins on the ice" despite their being a trio, not a duo.
"It’s kind of like being the teacher and they’re the loud kids in the back of the classroom," said the Park City High School head hockey coach, "but they always seem get A’s on the exams."
Center Nicky Garland is flanked by Will Radovan (right wing) and Derek Sederman (left wing) on a freshmen line that has taken Utah high school hockey by storm through 11 games this season. The Miners, currently 9-2, are paced offensively by the three freshmen.
According to http://www.utahighschoolhockey.com , Garland leads the Miners in scoring this year with 17 goals, while also netting four assists. He scored six goals in a 9-5 win on Nov. 30. But it’s Sederman (10 goals, 11 assists) and Radovan (four goals, 10 assists) who help set up their center forward and keep the offensive-minded brain trust churning.
"We’ve gotten used to being on the ice with each other," Garland said, "and knowing who’s going to do what at all times when to pass and where they’re going to be, so it just comes down to knowing where they’re going to be at the right time."
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The three freshmen have been on the same line for the last three months and also play on the same line with their club hockey team, which Radovan said has helped the trio explode onto the high school scene.
"I think it’s been the two-a-day practices, being in the car together for 45 minutes every day, just being around each other," he said. "Knowing that, ‘you’ve done this every single time, so I know you’re going to do it again.’"
That’s where Dufford’s decision not to break up the line comes into play.
"It made sense to keep them together," said Park City’s first-year head coach. "They play a similar style of hockey.
"They always know what they’re trying to do. They’re fun to watch as a coach because sometimes I’m not happy with what a certain guy is doing, but the other two react properly and help out."
Sederman said there is no level of hierarchy within the line and that’s how they feed off one another so easily.
"There’s really no different skill level between all three of us," he said. "That really helps. We just work together."
While the freshmen are atop many offensive statistical categories for the upstart Miners, the matter of being 14 or 15 years old and starring alongside seniors doesn’t seem to be an issue.
"Every line seems to get it done," Dufford said. "But they’ve definitely been a huge part of our success; it’s never easy playing with kids who are four years older than you."
"Everyone on our team is happy," Garland added. "They don’t care who scores as long as we keep winning games."
The trio was asked if they have any quirky pregame rituals.
"Running into the rink?" Sederman wondered.
"Yeah, running into the rink with all of our gear, all half-dressed," Radovan followed, laughing.
But despite being freshmen, the three are veterans when it comes to business on the ice, Dufford said. With some athletes, it’s difficult to differentiate behavior on the bench and in practice compared to when the puck is dropped but not these three.
"They all seem to have a higher hockey knowledge and it allows them to compete at this level and be successful in what they do because their hockey knowledge is there," he said. "They’re in the advanced-placement classes.
"I will say this: When they’re on the bench, they’re kind of like the Three Stooges, not because they’re goofing off, but because they’re pissed off at each other for one thing or another. But then, when they get on the ice, they just seem to mesh well together. In the end, it’s about scoring goals and winning games and they’re a big part of the success this year."
Having such early success could come with a price for many high school athletes, but as Garland said, the team always comes first and if the trio’s well eventually runs dry, they will adapt in the best interest of the team.
"It’s working right now, and if we keep going why change something that’s not broken?" Radovan added.
As the 9-2 Miners continue their charge toward the playoffs in February, Park City’s "Three Stooges" will be there dropping jaws with their showcase of electricity on the ice and their ability to abuse opposing defenses and goaltenders.
"The reason that anyone plays any game is to eventually be the best," Dufford said. "They want to get better. They’ve built a solid foundation and they are a dominant line, but I don’t think they’re the dominant line in Utah High School hockey and I feel like that’s something they could become."