PCHS hockey squad passes tough test | ParkRecord.com

PCHS hockey squad passes tough test

Despite having wins of 21-0, 13-0, 11-0, 12-1, 10-1 and 14-2 under its belt already this season, the Park City High School hockey squad knew it was in for a tough test on Friday night against Uintah.

That proved to be the case. Playing at the Park City Ice Arena, the Miners went into the third and final period holding onto a 2-0 lead after going scoreless in the second.

A quick goal by Nick Butterworth put Park City up 3-0, but Uintah answered quickly to make it 3-1. The Miners were able to pull away, however, scoring two unanswered goals in the game’s final minutes to pick up a 5-1 victory.

Senior Will Radovan started the scoring in the first period, finishing the game with a goal and an assist. Senior Nixon Barber had a solid outing, scoring two goals and dishing out two assists. Sophomore Aidan Shaw had a goal and an assist to continue his strong season and junior Will Miele, sophomore Taylor Mellon and freshman Dylan Williams each had an assist against Uintah.

Park City Coach Aaron Dufford said he was proud of the way the Miners played in their first true test of the season.

"I was really happy with how the team responded," he said. "We were stuck at two goals for quite a while and didn’t score in the second period. It’s not that we didn’t have chances — we just didn’t put anything home. Sometimes you can get frustrated when you’re not scoring and let up defensively. We didn’t do that tonight."

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The back end of the defense was led by goalie Ishan Chho. The freshman netminder faced 16 shots, more than the Miners usually allow, and gave up only one goal. Dufford said Chho’s effort was outstanding on Friday night.

"I thought he played great," he said. "I’m very confident in Ishan and our goaltenders in general. We know our goaltenders can stop the first shot and that’s all we ask. Ishan played a great game tonight. The goal that went in was a great shot, but Ishan was also screened by our defender, so he didn’t see it come off the stick."

Though Friday’s game was more nerve-wracking than any other so far this year, Barber said he and the rest of the Miners wouldn’t have it any other way.

"Going out there and being able to beat a team that’s good and puts up a fight, it’s rewarding and it’s well-deserved," he said. "This group of guys has put in a lot of work and effort and we’ve had a bunch of wins, but not a lot to show for it. This is the first challenge this group has seen and we did well with it."

Friday night’s game was also the most physical game the Miners have played so far. Barber said the added physicality meant players had to up their mental game as well.

"It changes the way you think about things," he said. "Moving the puck is a large factor in the game. One guy can’t do it all. Being able to give the puck to your buddies on the ice and do it effectively so that, not only are you keeping yourself protected, but also keeping the guy receiving the puck protected, is important."

In physical games, it’s important to avoid spending too much time in the penalty box. Barber said he thought Park City did a good job of that as well.

"I thought our group had a lot of composure," he said. "It was a physical game, it was a rough game and those guys were out there trying to make things difficult for us. But our group showed composure, which I thought was key."

Being able to put up five goals against a Uintah defense that had only allowed five goals all season prior to Friday was no easy task, Shaw said. He credited hard work in practice for helping the Miners succeed.

"The offense, we’ve been going hard in practice, working on certain drills," he said. "I think it really paid off in how we shot the puck. We were getting pucks to the net a lot and the rebounds really paid off."

Park City improved to 7-0-0 on the season with the victory. The Miners will return to the Park City Ice Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 7, to take on Copper Hills. The puck is scheduled to drop at 6:30 p.m.