Park City skates away with tie on senior night
Miners receive fierce test ahead of postseason
After winning 12 straight games, the Park City Red hockey team had to settle for a tie against Brighton Navy for senior night on Wednesday at the Park City Ice Arena.
The Miners carried a 2-1 lead into the third period, but a game-tying goal for Brighton in the that period was the final tally of the night in a 2-2 stalemate.
Park City Red, which sits at 13-1-1 with the playoffs around the corner, received a stiff test from a strong Brighton Navy team (12-2-1). After an emotional, tightly contested final home game for its seniors, Park City sets its sights on winning the state championship for the fourth year in a row.
“I think that we now know that there’s competition in-state that we’re going to have to beat if we’re going to reach our goal of retaining that state title and doing well at nationals,” Park City coach Mike Adamek said. “I don’t know that they necessarily had that same feeling before our game today because we won 12 in a row, you know what I mean?”
The Miners had steamrolled their competition entering Wednesday’s game against Brighton Navy. In its last five games, Park City had outscored its opponents 47-2. The Bengals became the first team to score more than a single goal against the Miners since Skyline did it in a 7-2 Park City win on Nov. 2.
It looked like the Miners might coast to another easy win early on when Garrett Hebert opened the scoring late in the first period. Hebert jammed a rebound into the net to tie Jake Carter for the team lead in goals this season at 11.
But Brighton held off the Miners for the rest of the period and exposed some areas of improvement for Park City, like on the penalty kill. The Bengals tied the game at one goal apiece with a power-play goal early in the second period. Another Brighton power play late in the third period nearly produced a game-winning goal.
“We didn’t necessarily need to worry about our penalty kill (before) because we were already up a couple of goals by the time we took a penalty,” Adamek said. “Tonight, I think having that little bit of pressure on the penalty kill, we didn’t really rise up.”
The Miners restored their lead with under a minute left in the second period and a two-man advantage. Erich Jaques sped down the right wing, burned a defender and cut back inside, leaving the puck right on the doorstep. Cooper Ford spun and fired the puck past the goaltender for a Park City goal.
Brighton found another goal in the third period to tie the game, and neither team could find another before the clock hit zero. Park City had a 32-13 advantage on the shot counter, but Adamek felt his team didn’t create enough quality scoring chances.
“I think taking away from tonight is, being able to turn our cycle and our possession into offense and dangerous offense, good scoring opportunities,” Adamek said. “We probably outshot them two to one, but the glorious, grade-A scoring opportunities were probably pretty even.”
While Park City didn’t score a big win on senior night, senior Rigan McIntosh got the competitive game he was hoping for rather than another blowout win.
“It’s more fun to go play physical and all that and have a good, actual game,” he said.
McIntosh was given the ceremonial hard hat that’s given to the player of the game. While it would’ve been difficult to not give it to a senior on a night like Wednesday, McIntosh enjoyed having the honor.
“It’s nice to get it on the last home game and then walk out with it and wear it with some of my friends in the hall and stuff,” he said. “Obviously, it’s special … Last game and last time I really can get this at home.”
Cutler Schofield wears the C for the Miners as the captain, and he’s looking to end his high-school hockey career by winning a state championship all four years. Having the honor of being a captain has only made it sweeter.
“It’s kind of a dream come true,” Schofield said. “I’ve been on this team for four years. Getting that captaincy as a leader means a lot.”
Park City’s seniors enjoyed playing in front of a packed student section at the Park City Ice Arena on Wednesday. Any emotions over their final home game were soon replaced with raucous cheers and banging on the glass.
“That first shift is always nerving here, banging on the glass,” Schofield said. “Because you know you’re going to hear it if you mess up. Once the game gets going, you kind of block them out. You only hear them when they say good things.”
As the Miners head toward the postseason, senior Ryan Bizily agreed that Wednesday night’s game was what the team needed to be prepared to try to win another title.
“It’s good competition, and I think it’ll get us ready for what comes ahead,” he said. “Everyone’s going to be giving it their all, so hopefully more teams like this in playoffs we haven’t played yet. Looking forward to it.”
Senior night also gave Park City a chance to reflect on the past while getting ready for the future. Years of playing with each other are starting to come to an end.
“It’s a little sad because this is the last time we’re here with this amazing team and a bunch of my friends and this awesome community,” Bizily said. “I thought it was really cool. But yeah, I am a little disappointed this will be the last home game, but looking forward to what’s coming next.”
Adamek is in his first year as the head coach, but he’s known the players for years. He recalled how he taught Schofield how to play years ago and now he’s coaching his team captain for his final home game.
“It’s their last home, their last time to play in front of friends and family and peers,” Adamek said. “I think we did not do them a disservice in our work ethic tonight. Obviously, … we’d like to have a different result, but I think we kind of sent them off the right way effort-wise.”
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