Pioneering the way for local hockey
November 26, 2010
David Imonti is some sort of a circus act.
The Park City Pioneers GM and director of hockey operations is a well-known minor-league hockey agent based out of Salt Lake City, a part-time player and the media contact for the second-year minor league hockey team.
In other words, Imonti can juggle with the best of them.
But he sees a problem that has a simple solution and needs some help.
"We’re trying to generate interest," he said. "We had a very successful inaugural season last year."
Park City lost a wealth of talent last year after a few key players took off for pro teams and coaching jobs. Star forward Solomon McCann is now playing professional hockey in Finland.
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"This year we have a lot of depth as a team," Imonti said. "We lack the star power we had last year. I expect this year to be more of a team effort all around; a more blue-collar effort. Everyone is excited to be here."
Putting together a minor league hockey club isn’t an easy task. If you want to know why, just ask Imonti or Aaron Dufford Imonti’s partner with the Pioneers, who is also the assistant GM and director of business development and marketing
"We hold open tryouts to try and get some locals involved, and then I go to work trying to find ringers," explained Imonti. "I try and target lower-level minor leaguers that are available."
This year’s Pioneers now sit at 1-2-0 and will hit the road the next few weeks traveling to Provo and on to Sun Valley before returning to Park City to play their second home game of the season on Dec. 18 at the Park City Ice Arena. Imonti sees the potential of having consistently packed home games.
"We know there’s not a lot to do in Park City at night," he said. "We’re trying to provide an avenue to tourists and locals to have an enjoyable evening here and there."
The Pioneers are trying hard to get folks in the stands at the Ice Arena and have come up with some unique ways of doing so.
The No Name Saloon is a sponsor of the team and together with the Pioneers, offers a discount taxi service, to take patrons from Main Street to some Park City hockey games. There will also be a city shuttle running to-and-from at times.
The Pioneers are working with other notable ski towns in the Western United States to organize a championship cup system within the next year.
Park City already plays the likes of Sun Valley, Aspen and Jackson Hole and the Pioneers hope that rivalries will develop over time if a trophy is at stake every season.
"We’re hoping it works out," Imonti said. "It’d be great."
According to Imonti, fans will get a good taste of physical hockey this year. He singled out forward Chris Jeavons, a Parkite, who hails from South Africa and has played with the national team. He also included Adam Blossey of Minnesota, who played at Arizona State University and is a great two-way player.
"I expect great things from him this year," Imonti said.
Imonti expects that the sibling duo of Mike and Mark Adamek will be vital to the team’s success as well. Mike Adamek is a player coach who will be focusing more on coaching this year, he said.
Imonti said the team has players from all different walks of life which shouldn’t come as a surprise on a small-town minor-league hockey team. He said there are players who are married with kids and others who hope to use the team as a springboard to the next level.
So what’s the draw for a small club team like the Pioneers?
"People will be entertained," Imonti said. ‘They’ll see physical hockey and maybe even a fight here or there."