HS hockey: Ice Miners take runner-up for third year running | ParkRecord.com

HS hockey: Ice Miners take runner-up for third year running

Park City’s Tristen Lippertt prepares to shoot on Riverton in an 8-1 blowout over the Riverwolves in November.

The Park City Ice Miners hockey team took second in the Utah High School Hockey Division 1 state championship on Monday in the final act of a season-long rivalry, falling 5-2 to the Viewmont Vikings at Steiner Ice Rink in Salt Lake City.

The Miners and the Vikings were far and away the top two teams in the state. The Miners defeated their opponents by five or more goals in 13 of 16 regular season victories, including one win against Viewmont, and had five losses – three to Viewmont, one to UCI North and one to Uintah D1 Varsity.

Because of the gap in quality between the two teams and the rest of the field, Park City coach Josh Angevine said the season was "a bit of a roller coaster."

"We have a lot of teams in our schedule that are blatantly not competition for us," Angevine said. "So it's tough to turn it on for the big games. During the regular season we have games where we stop shooting when the score is 8-0. Then have to show up at Viewmont and flip that switch."

Not that the Miners' season was without high points. Angevine said beating Murray 7-2 in the regular season opener was notable, and defeating third-ranked Farmington 8-0 in the state playoffs was "a high note."

But the peak came in the team's penultimate game last Friday, when the Miners defeated Viewmont 5-2 in their second matchup, after losing to them 2-1 in Park City during the regular season, to force a third game between the Miners and the Vikings, with the state trophy on the line.

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"You could just tell (by) the tone in the locker room we were going to play well," Angevine said of the Friday night game. "Everyone was on the same page."

He said every detail of the game, starting with warm-ups, was dialed in.

"Everyone was in sync," he said. "We had our backs against the wall; we had nothing to lose at that point."

For a team that Angevine said had struggled for most of the season with cohesiveness, it was a big step and a good sign.

Nick Lippman scored first for the Miners finding the net three minutes into the first period. Two minutes later, Park City's Wes Griffin scored, ending the period 2-0, Miners.

The second period belonged to the Vikings, with Mac Tanner scoring twice for Viewmont – one with 10:41 left in the period, and the other with 6:12 on the clock to tie the match 2-2.

Park City came back in the third period, starting with a goal from Westley Hatz, then another from Ryan Jeffrey and a third from Scott Burnette to shut the door on the Vikings, 5-2.

"It felt great to get that huge win," Angevine said. "And I truly felt after that game that if we came out the exact same way, I had all the confidence in the boys to pull out another W. … But playoff hockey is playoff hockey."

In the match for the championship Monday, though, the Miners came out flat.

They "didn't have the juice," Angevine said.

Park City's Hatz scored first, with three minutes left in the first period, but Viewmont's Austin Adams answered a minute later. Viewmont's Tyler Phillips scored early in the second period to put the Vikings up 2-1, – where they stayed until the third period.

The Vikings scored two more goals in close succession, with Garrett Zeidler and Mac Tanner finding the net both in the third minute of play, even with the Miners at full strength.

Scott Burnette scored for the Miners with 11:44 left on the clock, keeping Park City in the game at 4-3, Vikings.

Park City's Ryan Jeffrey nearly closed the gap. He scored, but it was disallowed with a man-in-the-crease foul.

The Miners pulled their keeper in the last minute of the game in hopes of scoring an equalizer, but Viewmont capitalized on the empty net and sealed their place as 2019's Utah state champions with a final goal with 48 seconds left in the game, scored by Phillips.

"The message in the room, unfortunately, again was 'take this loss personally, we were in the mix, playoff hockey goes to show that any team can win on any given night, and we should be about fed up with coming in second place,'" Angevine said of his message to the team after the game. "It's time to create a new tradition in Park City of not settling for second anymore."

With only four players graduating high school – Marc Collaizzi, Lippert, Connor Schulz and Alex Prucka – Angevine said next season is looking bright. From the get-go, the team will be looking to finish on top.