Pioneers: Bring on Jackson Hole
March 11, 2011
Having won four of their last five games, the Park City Pioneers are hitting their midseason stride with only two regular-season games left, and if you ask captain David Imonti, that’s just fine with the team.
"It’s taken a bit longer once we got going and got everyone clicking," he said. "We are a deeper team this year and that takes a little longer."
Coming off a crucial 7-6 overtime win against in-state nemesis Utah County Blizzard March 5, the Pioneers host one of the league’s best teams in the Jackson Hole Moose this weekend. Having played the first of the two-game series Friday night at Park City Ice Arena, Park City will take on the Moose tonight at 7: 30 p.m.
Imonti said Jackson Hole is one of the more physical teams the Pioneers play and he expects a dogfight when the Moose stroll into Park City.
"It’s a big weekend," he said. "They’re a good team; one of the best in the western United States."
Earlier this season, Park City won its season-opener against the Moose in Jackson Hole, Wyo., a 4-3 overtime thriller, which Imonti said was as tough and exciting a game as the team has played all year.
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"They’re tough," he said. "The games are always competitive."
Imonti said his team is ready for a rough-and-tumble weekend, but that the team is dealing with some injury issues as three or four key players for the Pioneers have picked up some knocks over the past couple weeks.
"We’re a little banged up," he said.
Forward Tom Gatta, who was tied for third on the team in goals scored with eight, blew out his knee and will miss the remainder of the 2011 season, according to Imonti.
The team will have to lean on leading goal-scoresr Michael Spawton (12), Aaron Burrell (nine) and Erik Milliron (eight) to help shoulder the scoring load this weekend against Jackson Hole.
Once the regular season comes to a close Saturday night, the Pioneers will turn their focus to a state championship. They will host the Blizzard in a championship series April 8-10 at the Park City Ice Arena.
"Everyone hates playing them," Imonti said. "They definitely give it all and always are tough to play against."
A three-week break between games will put more focus on practicing and staying in top game shape.
"We’ll kind of restock," he said. "We’ll do all we can to come on top."
Imonti said, in the future, the championship winner should be able to host the tournament the next season, something he strongly supports.
"We’d like to keep it in Park City," he said.
Following Saturday night’s game, the Pioneers will host a benefit auction selling players’ jerseys to help raise funds for local youth hockey clubs in Park City.
"We want to help the grass roots efforts," Imonti said.