Miners Hockey seeks new role as underdog
Coach says team must out-work opponents
October 7, 2017
Any way you slice it, Wednesday night's home game against Murray was tough for the Miners hockey team.
The state champions beat the Miners 8-1, and kept a firm grip on the game throughout, which was as shocking to Tim Hale, Murray's head coach, as it was to anyone else.
"I'm just really surprised that we scored eight goals against Park City," he said. This is because Murray lost two of its influential players last year to graduation.
Nevertheless, the Spartans kept a handful of key players, including a talented goalkeeper coming into a game against one of last year's state contenders.
"They are just so good," Hale said of the Miners, "but it looks like they have some turnover as well."
In fact, the Miners lost eight seniors last season.
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After a long post-game talk, Josh Angevine, the Miners' head coach, said this year's team has its work cut out for it. The team is younger, smaller and less experienced, he said, and therefore must embrace a different style of play than last year's team.
"We had a different beast last year," Angevine said. "Our team had a lot of skill, a lot of older guys, a lot of bigger, stronger guys. We're trying to teach our guys this year that our focus can't revolve around skill; it can't revolve around four tic-tac-toe passes with a backdoor goal. We've got to buy into out-working teams, just grinding it out."
That means it's back to basics for the young team, as Angevine and his staff focus on bringing younger players up to speed on playing at the varsity level.
Angevine said the rest of the season will depend on the Miners' players embracing their newfound role as underdogs, starting with Wednesday night.
"We're trying to keep it positive," he said. "We challenged the boys tonight and said this is our first big test. … I would rather face this big loss now and see where we're going wrong, make our adjustments … (and) get better as a team for the long haul."
Team leadership responsibility will fall on the shoulders of defensemen Teddy Elbert and Alex Prucka, and forward Marc Colaizzi – the team's most experienced players.
In the second period against Murray, Colaizzi scored the team's lone goal when he found room between two Murray defensemen and outmaneuvered the goaltender.
The play came directly after a scuffle in front of the Miners' net, which ostensibly arose from an effort to protect the Miners' keeper.
Angevine said the dust-up was legal (or at least permissible) until a second Miner joined the fray, but there were a host of other, smaller fouls that the coach said hurt the team – 14 in total.
"Obviously, tonight, penalties were an issue," he said. "Hooking penalties, tripping penalties, interference penalties, they are not the kind of penalties we need to be taking. We want to focus on physicality but we want to focus on penalties that come from hard work."
Angevine's biggest hope for the team this season is that they embrace the hard work they have ahead of them and "buy in."
"Buy in and understand that we're not going to go out-dangle, out-skill other teams," Angevine said. "We have to be the hard-nosed underdog team that goes and out-works, out-plays, even out-thinks our opponents."
The next big test for the Miners will be Viewmont in two weeks. Last season, the Miners were 1-2 against the Vikings.
Angevine hopes the team's perspective has shifted by then, and said, with no expectations, the stage is set of an underdog story.
"A lot can happen when everyone doesn't expect you to go out there and come home with the championship trophy," he said.
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