Rebels surge past Pioneers in Park City’s home opener
As soon as the Park City Pioneers had dropped the second game of their 2012-13 home-opening weekend to the Rebels of Salt Lake, Park City forward Brian Babbitt, who could not play with his team this weekend, phoned captain David Imonti.
"We’re going to beat them by a dozen next time we see them," he told Imonti.
Luckily for the Pioneers, they won’t have to wait long to get a shot at redemption. Park City, now 0-4 to start the season, is scheduled to face the Rebels Sunday, Dec. 2, in Salt Lake at 1 p.m.
"I think everyone already knows how huge it is," Imonti said. "It’s like football season where every week counts and, if you can’t turn things around, you might miss out."
The Pioneers faced the Rebels Friday night in their home-opener at the Park City Ice Arena without some of their best players due to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Imonti said, along with Babbitt, goalie Kyle Gover, brothers Mike and Mark Adamek, P.J. Nelson, Erik Milliron, Michael Spawton, Sean Baron and Kory Scoran were also all inactive.
And it showed.
Last year, the Pioneers so often used the Rebels as their in-state punching bag, but this weekend the Rebels turned the tables, defeating the Pioneers 4-3 on Friday night and 5-2 on Saturday night.
"It was a rough one, for sure," Imonti said. "To be honest, they were just more prepared than us."
In Friday’s tight game, Imonti said injuries left the Pioneers with just 10 players.
"Anyone who puts up any points up for us was gone," Imonti said. "We made a hell of a game of it based on what we had. We got points out of guys that haven’t done much so far."
He said the Pioneers rallied behind forwards Jeff Jacobs and Dan Anctil, who, Imonti said, is playing competitive hockey for the first time in four years since his college days.
While Friday night’s loss was "a bummer," Imonti said, Saturday’s 5-2 loss was more disheartening because the Pioneers had beefed up a little with some players returning.
"I think we could have put in a better effort the second night," he said. "All in all, it was a really good weekend of hockey. We’re glad the Rebels are a lot more competitive this season. It’s no fun whenever we beat them by 15 goals or whatever we used to beat them by."
Imonti did say goalkeeper Eric Moldenhauer had a sensational weekend filling in for starter Kyle Gover and that either night could have been a blowout had it not been for Moldenhauer’s efforts.
While the Pioneers have an early shot at redemption against the Rebels, the team is not used to slow starts, let alone 0-4 starts.
"Everyone realizes the situation we’re in," Imonti said. "(Forward) Matt Long has stepped up into a leadership role and he was pretty rattled about how the weekend went. He’s called me four times since the last game venting about what we did wrong. If everyone takes that same approach, I don’t think we’ll need to stress about anything. We just need to dig deep and come back."
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