PCHS hockey falls to Murray in playoff opener
Following an up-and-down regular season, the Park City High School hockey team took the ice at the Park City Ice Arena for a playoff matchup against the Murray Spartans.
It turned out to be an up-and-down game for the Miners, who entered the contest as the No. 2 seed to Murray’s No. 3. Park City ended up with the short end of the stick when the final buzzer sounded, though, losing 5-3 to drop into the one-loss playoff bracket.
After Max Buckwalter put Murray ahead 1-0 three minutes into the game, Karter Kovar scored for Park City off an assist by Alec Smith to even the score. Then, after Buckwalter scored again less than two minutes into the second period, Marc Colaizzi scored for Park City (Aidan Shaw assist) and Kyler Walterson added a goal just before the second intermission to put the Miners ahead 3-2.
However, the Park City defense didn’t hold up in the third period, allowing three Murray goals — by Samuel Flores, Bryon Fobair and Jake Elwell — to cough up the lead for good.
Park City Coach Aaron Dufford said the goal by Flores early in the third period put the Miners in a funk.
"We had the lead and they had a really nice goal to tie it up and it took the wind out of our sails," he said. "They had pretty decent sustained pressure. It’s important that we manage our defensive zone. The more we allow the other team to be in our defensive zone, the harder it’s going to be on us."
Park City goalie Ishan Chho faced 50 shots on goal, saving 45, while Murray’s goalie, Tegan Stevens, faced only 29 shots, stopping 26.
Now Park City must win five games in a row to win the state title. Meanwhile, either Murray or Viewmont, the teams still in the winner’s bracket, only have to win two.
"We’ve been in this position before as a team," Dufford said. "Our backs are against the wall. A couple years ago, we responded pretty well [making it to the final game]. We will find out what each and every one of our kids is made of."
The Miners’ next game is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 3, against Skyline at the County Ice Center in Murray. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:45 p.m. Dufford said the Miners should win, but they can’t take anything for granted.
"Skyline has a few decent players," he said. "They’re definitely not the powerhouse we are or Murray is. But you feel pretty defeated after a loss, especially at home like last night. It’ll be interesting to see how we respond. Anyone can surprise us if we don’t show up."
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After starting the year 0-3, the Miners are rolling. They’ve won their last three games, including Friday’s blowout over a region foe.