Shootouts at the PC Corral
The Park City Pioneers and the Jackson Hole Moose looked like evenly-matched teams heading into last weekend’s series at the Park City Ice Arena. The Pioneers had lost their first two games of the season to the Moose, but had since rebounded, playing their best hockey of the season heading into the weekend’s rematch.
After a 5-5 regulation tie on Friday night and a 3-3 tie after three periods on Saturday, and with each team earning a shootout win (the Pioneers on Friday and the Moose on Saturday), neither team established itself as the better squad heading into the playoffs.
Both teams battled hard, playing solid defense and scoring when needed.
"It was the most exciting series of the year," Pioneers forward David Imonti said. "It was a quick-paced, hard-hitting series, but not too chippy."
Friday night, Tom Gatta scored two goals and had an assist before getting a couple teeth knocked out and missing Saturday’s game. Bobby Ward had a goal and two assists, Aaron Burrell had a goal and an assist, and Mike Adamek and Aaron Dufford each chipped in with two assists in the 6-5 win.
Mark Adamek, in addition to notching an assist in regulation, scored the game-winning goal during the shootout.
Saturday’s game was another hotly-contested affair, with neither team gaining much of an advantage.
P.J. Nelson, Mike Adamek and David Imonti all scored for Park City in regulation, but no Pioneers were able to find the net in the shootout, leading to a 4-3 defeat.
Goalie Kyle Gover was a busy man between the pipes, making 41 saves on Friday and adding 36 more on Saturday.
"He’s awesome," Imonti said. "We’re very fortunate to have him."
Though the Pioneers split the weekend series, Imonti said the way the team fought both nights against a strong hockey team is a good sign for the playoffs.
"You want to finish with your hardest opponent heading into the playoffs," he said. "If we play as well as we have been playing, we should be serious contenders for a championship."
The Pioneers, who finished the season with a record of 10-11 after starting 1-7, are hoping to be back at full strength in time for the semifinals.
In addition to Gatta’s injury, Park City’s leading goal scorer, Brian Babbitt, suffered a broken sternum during the recent Las Vegas series and missed last weekend’s action.
In the wake of the injuries to the key forwards, Imonti said the rest of the bench stepped up on Saturday.
"It’s great that we have the depth to recover from something like that," he said.
Park City earned the No. 2 seed in the Mountain West Hockey League playoffs, and will take on the No. 3-seed Rebels of Salt Lake on April 12 at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex at 7:30 p.m. The finals will be held at Park City Ice Arena on April 13 at 7 p.m.
The Las Vegas Hookers earned the No. 1 seed and will take on the Aspen Leafs in the semifinals.
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Rather than sticking with just the Pie N Beer Run, three combined runs will make up the Mountain Miles over the next three months.