Off to a 7-0 start to begin the season, Park City is aiming for its first ever state title
The Park City High School team has had one year to reflect on what happened the previous season.
The Miners came within one win of claiming the Utah High School Hockey League state championship before falling to Viewmont in the state title game.
“We played in front of 2,000 people for the championship and it was a little nerve-wracking probably,” said Park City coach Josh Angevine. “To come that close and not get it, it’s definitely helped fuel us throughout the offseason because we know what our goal is.”
That goal, according to Angevine, is nothing short of winning a state championship. In his fourth season, Angevine has led the Miners to state championship appearances twice during his tenure, but has yet to bring home the big win.
“In the history of Park City High School, we have yet to win a state championship in ice hockey so obviously that’s our goal, Angevine said. “As a coach who’s been there often and has yet to win, I’m always looking for ways for us to improve or for me to do better. I think this year is the year for us.”
What makes this year’s squad different, according to Angevine, is the age and maturity of the team. Last year’s group of Miners were mostly freshmen and sophomores who, although talented, just didn’t have the size and physicality to match up with the players two to three years older than them.
But that’s not the case this year, as eight seniors, all of whom play a prominent role on and off the ice, lead Park City. According to Angevine, the leadership that this senior class provides has already started to pay dividends as the Miners are off to a 7-0 start to begin their season.
“They’ve absolutely helped drive the start of this season, just their experience and composure on the ice whenever things might get tough is very calming,” Angevine said. “Going from a young team to one with a lot of leadership has definitely been different, and adjustment for me as a coach. But this group, if we are to achieve our goal, are going to be a huge reason why we reach the top.”
The seniors have done a good job of taking the freshmen and sophomores under their wings, explaining the concepts and strategies of the Miners as to why they’ve been so successful in years past.
But despite the early success, it wasn’t guaranteed as Park City lost numerous players from last year’s squad. According to Angevine, several players from last season’s squad recently went out of state to play a higher level of hockey over the summer, and through that time, elected to not come back to Park City in order to pursue the game at its highest levels for youth.
“It’s kind of hard because you’re not sure who you’ve got coming back because they’re all off doing their own thing,” Angevine said. “But at the same time, you want what’s best for the boys and if this is what they think is best for them, I support that. You can’t expect them to turn down the opportunities they’ve been given, and I wouldn’t want them to. … As a team we are happy for them.”
According to Angevine, youth hockey players aren’t recruited by colleges due to their play with their local high school teams. Rather, it’s the out of state tournaments with club teams where they get the most exposure, so losing players for the following high school season isn’t completely out of the norm.
“There’s nothing we could’ve done about it so it was kind of like just taking it all as is it came and making adjustments on the fly,” Angevine said. “But I thought we’ve bounced back nicely because our tryouts were great. And then our practices have been very competitive so we’ve been able to successfully make it work with what we have on the ice and on the bench.”
If Park City is to cross that threshold into state champions status, Angevine believes it will happen due to the play of sophomore goalkeeper Colten McIntyre. Last season as a freshman, McIntyre was the starting goalkeeper for the last half of the season, and did not disappoint.
He’s been off to another stellar start this season, leading the UHSHL in save percentage (.946) while being tied for the lead in shutouts (3), and ranking second in goals against average (1.29) and wins (7).
“Hands down goaltending is the strongest part of our game, and it’s because of Colten after what he did last year as a freshman in leading us that far,” Angevine said. “It’s not easy to step into that role like he did, but he did so with maturity and has continued to play as well, if not better, this season.”
Apart from the play of McIntyre, Angevine says there’s a different vibe to this team that should help them get over the hump. This year’s squad is truly buying into what Angevine is saying and teaching. From top to bottom, this year’s players accept their respective roles without complaining, understanding what’s at play.
“Without a doubt, I have more confidence in this team, just with the way season is going so far, than teams from the past,” Angevine said. “If I’m being honest, everyone is taking on their individual roles with pride. Whether it be a goal scorer or a physical player, individuals are taking on their role and just buying in this year.”
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“We can’t keep kicking this thing down the road. The longer we do, the longer it’s going to take to come out the other side.”