Miners hockey falls to rival Viewmont
After one period of play Wednesday night at the Salt Lake Sports Complex, the Park City High School hockey team found itself in a familiar position during this year’s playoff run — the Miners trailed 2-0.
Though Park City had only lost one game this season, the playoffs had been a struggle, with the Miners often falling behind in the first period before gathering themselves and cruising to easy victories.
Wednesday night, though, was a different story. The Viewmont Vikings, who are the defending state champions, got out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and never gave it up, handily defeating Park City 5-1.
In the preseason, Park City defeated Viewmont 6-2 on the road. But, as Park City Coach Aaron Dufford noted, the Vikings have come a long way since then.
"I think they were really well-structured," he said. "To be honest with you, I was surprised with how talented they were."
The middle of the ice is where the Miners struggled on Wednesday, losing too many pucks in transition and not making smooth passes to one another.
"They beat us in transition and that’s where we really suffered tonight," Dufford said. "We had some good portions of the game, but we weren’t scoring. They have a really good goaltender and we helped to make him look even better."
After playing from behind during a large portion of this year’s playoffs, the pressure seemed to catch up with Park City against Viewmont. Dufford said it’s hard to see shot after shot come up short when a team is behind.
"Any team plays better with a lead," he said. "When you’re feeling stifled scoring, it’s not a good feeling."
That said, Dufford still felt the Miners had plenty of chances — Viewmont just took advantage of more of its opportunities.
"They had some flurries and they capitalized on their flurries," he said. "We had some flurries and we didn’t capitalize on them. There’s a difference between a shot and a scoring opportunity. We didn’t capitalize on our scoring opportunities."
A theme this season has been players saying the Miners needed to be more cohesive and play together more often. Dufford said he felt the squad was lacking in that respect on Wednesday.
"I’m going to take the heat on that," he said. "I didn’t coach the best game. I probably should have looked at things a little differently and probably should have prepared a little differently. We didn’t prepare ourselves during the regular season to be in this position."
Still, though, the Miners have life in the playoffs. In the double-elimination format, Park City can be state champions by winning its next three games, two of which would have to be against Viewmont. Dufford said it’s going to take a lot of heart from the Miners if they want to accomplish the goal they set for themselves at the beginning of the year.
"At this point of the season, it’s all blood, sweat and tears," he said. "The coaching aspect, as far as ‘this is what we need to do,’ is over. It’s just who wants it more. We all know what we’re good at and we’ve got to earn everything. We don’t deserve anything. You can have the greatest season ever, but you’ve got to earn everything in the playoffs."
He’s confident the Miners can overcome adversity and finish the year on a positive note, though.
"I know that we have what it takes," he said. "We’ve just got to make sure we show up and do it."
The Miners were scheduled to take the ice on Friday night at the Maverick Center in a losers-bracket game, after this issue went to press. Should Park City win, the next game is scheduled for Saturday at 3:15 p.m. against Viewmont at the Maverick Center. Should the Miners win that game as well, the championship game would be held on Monday night at 6:45 p.m. at the Salt Lake Sports Complex.
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