Another rough weekend for Pioneers
It’s been a rough couple of weekends for the Park City Pioneers, who have scored four goals total in their last four games since routing the Aspen Leafs 21-7 on Feb. 22.
On March 14-15, it was the Sun Valley Suns schooling the defending Mountain West Hockey League champions, earning two wins by scores of 11-2 and 10-0 in Sun Valley.
This weekend, the Jackson Hole Moose stopped by the Park City Ice Arena, battling their way to a 7-2 victory over the hosts on Friday night and following it up with a 6-0 shutout Saturday night.
"They didn’t do anything different than they normally do, that’s the thing," Pioneers captain David Imonti said. "They had the same high tempo they’ve always had. They play a good, hard, clean game and compete for 60 minutes."
With an overall record of 12-15 after this weekend’s losses, Imonti said the team needs to buckle down and find some consistency.
"We just need to refocus," he said. "It’s been a rough year I don’t know why. We just aren’t clicking for some reason."
The Pioneers have plenty of quality players, Imonti added. But the offense just isn’t there for this year’s Park City squad.
"Overall, we have enough talent in the room to persevere and do OK in the playoffs," he said. "It’s not for a lack of effort we just can’t score."
The offense will be looking for players to step up in the MWHL playoffs, which begin on April 11 in Las Vegas, after Dane Ludolph, one of the Pioneers’ best offensive players this year, signed a contract with an Australian team.
"We’ll be missing him, but it’s a great opportunity for him," Imonti said. "We were happy to have him this year and we hope to have him back next year."
Despite the loss of Ludolph, Imonti is confident the Pioneers can defend their MWHL title.
"We might now have the quantity of guys we normally do this trip, but we’ll have the quality," he said. "There’s definitely a lot to look forward to."
Indeed, the Pioneers did quite well against MWHL competition this season, earning a 10-3 mark against the league that includes the Las Vegas Wolfpack, Vail Yeti, Aspen Leafs, San Diego Skates and Salt Lake Ice Wolves.
The only team the Pioneers haven’t beaten this season is Vail, who downed Park City 13-2 and 13-1 in Colorado Dec. 13-14 when the Pioneers were shorthanded.
"As long as we show up with a full roster, we win those [MWHL] games for the most part," Imonti said.
Imonti predicts the Pioneers will meet Vail in the MWHL championship game on April 13.
"I don’t want to look past Vegas, though," he said of Park City’s semifinal opponent. "They’re at home and they’re a competitive team. But, as long as we bring the right guys, we’ll be OK. Hopefully, we can defend this title and wrap up the season on a high note."
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Facing a region opponent early on was not ideal for Park City head coach Micaela Carriel, especially considering her girls had just moved up to 5A Region 8 after spending last season in 4A.