Park City’s undefeated start continues with 5-1 win over South County
The Miners’ season-long shutout streak ends in second period
Liam Van Valkenburgh collected the puck in the corner, looked up and saw some open ice between himself and the goaltender. He skated toward the net and rifled a shot into the top corner for another Park City goal.
Van Valkenburgh’s second tally of the game was the exclamation point on a dominant 5-1 win for Park City High School’s hockey team over the South County Ice Llamas at the Park City Ice Arena on Wednesday night. The Miners are off to a 4-0 start this season after capturing the last two state titles.
“I thought Liam had a really good night,” Miners coach Jack Skille said. “Led by example, that line really got us going. That was the first line that really hemmed them in their own zone and really amped up the bench and got us started.”
The Miners got off to a slow start, but Van Valkenburgh opened the scoring with under five minutes left in the first period. Park City cashed in again a minute later when Bryce Bargowski collected a rebound off a shot from the point and sent it into the back of the net. The Miners took their 2-0 lead into intermission, but it wouldn’t be too long until South County put a “1” on the scoreboard.
Park City didn’t give up a single goal in its first three games against Uintah, Weber County and the Salt Lake Stars. However, all good things must come to an end, and Park City goaltender Colten McIntyre was finally beaten for the first time this season just a few minutes into the second period.
“Obviously, we would have liked to have that one back for Colten, but I think there was just a little bit of a breakdown, maybe a player or two turned their back on the play for a split second, and that’s all that matters in this game,” Skille said. “But the positive side is, yeah, we’ve given up only one goal in four games now.”
While the Miners’ power play struggled Wednesday night, their penalty kill showed up when they needed it the most. Clinging to a one-goal lead and having to kill a crucial penalty, Park City added a shorthanded goal to restore the two-goal advantage. Micah Procino won the puck behind the South County net, outmuscled a couple of Ice Llamas and teed up a one-timer for Xander Riessen for the goal.
“Micah did a great job pressuring, hanging onto the puck, and because of that play by Micah down in the corner, he ends up getting a jump on a guy, and then you have a wide-open Xander right in the middle of the ice,” Skille said. “Those two players have really good chemistry together, they work hard together, they lead by example, and that’s what our coaching staff looks for.”
Cooper Ford’s one-timer later in the period gave the Miners a commanding 4-1 lead late in the second period. Park City had a few more chances to further extend the lead before Van Valkenburgh’s second goal late in the third made it 5-1. Four games into his first season behind the bench, Skille, a former NHL player, has the Miners rolling.
“Right now, the team identity is we’re just going to all work,” Skille said. “We’re going to outwork every single team for a full 60 minutes. And we’re going to rely on our system within that work ethic, and hopefully our system gives us some opportunities to cash in on.”
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