Miners hockey starts playoffs at home
One of the biggest surprises of the high school hockey season came on Jan. 26, when UCI North pulled off an upset against the previously unbeaten Park City Miners by a score of 6-4.
For a squad that hadn’t allowed more than three goals in one game prior to that night, allowing six goals was quite a shock. The loss also dropped the Miners to 10-1 to end the regular season.
But, heading into the playoffs, Park City Coach Aaron Dufford isn’t worried about the blemish on the Miners’ record.
"We were missing six guys and had a few injuries," he said. "That kind of hurt us mentally, I think. What we realized is we were the better team, even though we lost. We out-shot them 33-24. We lost the game on the mental side and not the physical side. It’s something we can learn from as a group."
The loss cost the Miners a shot at the No. 1 seed in the playoff bracket, as well. The top spot, and the first-round bye that comes with it, will instead go to Viewmont, the team that bested Park City in last year’s title game.
While the Miners will have to play on Wednesday night, when they host No. 15 seed Olympus at the Park City Ice Arena at 6:30 p.m., Dufford isn’t worried about the extra game.
"I think it’s going to be our easiest playoff game," he said. "It shouldn’t be too much of a test for us. What we want to take away is good team play and playing smart, simple hockey."
Dufford said he plans to give a couple of the players who missed the last regular season game some additional time off on Wednesday.
"We have two concussions on the defensive end and we’re going to have them sit out Wednesday so they’re fully prepared next week," he said. "We also had an ACL scare with Will Radovan. He’s since been cleared and he’ll probably suit up on Wednesday in a limited capacity."
It would be understandable if certain upperclassmen on the Park City squad were anxious for another meeting with Viewmont in the championship game after losing in heartbreaking fashion last year. But, Dufford said, it’s important to make sure they don’t get upset by a lower seed before they get that chance.
"No matter what, there’s at most six more games left in the season," he said. "It’s up to us to earn that next game. Each game is a big step in the right direction, but we need to win each game to get where we want to go. Having the goal to play Viewmont or whoever in the championship is fine, but we need to realize there are rungs in the ladder we need to climb to get there."
If the Miners win on Wednesday night, they’ll advance to play the winner between No. 7 Skyline and No. 10 Herriman. That game would take place at 6:45 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the Salt Lake Sports Complex.
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