Pioneers swept by Moose
This season is one of new beginnings for the Park City Pioneers hockey team.
Coming off a difficult year in which the Pioneers didn’t live up to expectations, often winning in blowout fashion at home and losing lopsided games on the road, the team switched things up a bit, making several roster changes and moving to a new conference. Now the squad features players who play hard every time they take the ice and the schedule features only opponents who do the same.
On Friday and Saturday nights at the Park City Ice Arena, the Pioneers played host to their biggest rivals – the Jackson Hole Moose. Though the weekend series didn’t go how the Pioneers would have liked, captain David Imonti said the entire team had a blast and played competitive hockey.
"Compared to last year, it’s been a complete 180 in terms of effort and working as a team," he said. "The results haven’t been what we’ve wanted so far, but the competition is much better than it was last year."
Friday night saw the Pioneers drop their season opener 4-0, but Imonti said it was a much closer game than the score indicated.
"Friday, we played awesome," he said. "But their goalie was unreal. We played well enough to score a couple goals and make a game of it, but their goalie made a couple saves we just haven’t seen at this level."
Saturday night was a better offensive performance for the Pioneers, but they still wound up on the wrong end of the scoreboard, dropping the game 5-3. Again, though, the score was 4-3 before an empty-net goal at the end of the game sealed the Moose victory.
"We got a good team effort," Imonti said of Saturday’s game. "We were able to roll four lines out and stay out of penalty trouble, which has been a problem of ours in the past."
But, Imonti added, give credit to the Moose for playing two solid games on the road.
"They’re a deep team," he said. "Everyone on their team is a good player."
Despite the two losses, Imonti said the energy of the crowd was great and he thinks fans are enjoying the switch to the new Black Diamond Hockey League, which features Park City, Jackson Hole, the Sun Valley Suns and the Bozeman Stingers.
"We lost, but it was a good game," he said. "As a spectator, I’d rather see a 5-3 loss than a 15-2 win – it’s more entertaining. Every team in this league has four lines that can play and everyone can be an asset on any particular night."
So, though the Pioneers are now 0-2, Imonti said he expects the scoreboard to turn in Park City’s favor soon.
"We were working more as a group this weekend than we have in the past," he said. "If we can do that on a regular basis, the wins will come."
The Pioneers travel to Jackson Hole for two more games against the Moose on Nov. 14 and 15. Both of those games will start at 7 p.m.
"We’re pumped," Imonti said of the trip. "It’s definitely a very hostile environment to play in. Their rink is smaller than ours, so there’s a lot more contact. They pack in 1,500 to 2,000 fans and they’re vocal with their hatred for us. It’s a fun place to go try to steal a win."
The Pioneers return home on Dec. 19 and 20 against Bozeman, with Friday night’s game starting at 8:15 p.m. and Saturday’s game beginning at 7:30 p.m.
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