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Park City Outlasts Palo Verde in OT

Legend tells of a legendary game whose final sequence is the stuff of legend: the end of the Park City Miners vs. Palo Verde Panthers game Saturday at Juan Diego’s Soaring Eagle Stadium was nothing short of thrilling. In a game that seemed well in hand for the Miners, the Panthers pushed back from down 9-6 in the third quarter with three straight goals early in the fourth. In the waning minutes of the contest, Park City’s Ryan Smith took the team on his back, swept across the top, and nestled a bounce shot into the top corner with virtually no angle as he went down the side. After staving off a Palo Verde offensive set, the Miners grabbed the ball and called a timeout in their offensive end with just 13 seconds remaining, but on the restart Park City not only lost the ball, but committed a tripping penalty, giving the ball back to the Panthers with ten ticks left on the clock. Palo Verde’s man-up was able to free their hands from the top of the box and sting the net with just one second left. To start overtime, PC FOS Jackson Burton, who had been sitting out due to injury, steeled himself and won the faceoff for the Miners. After a timeout, Miner attackman Aiden Christensen got the ball at X, pushed past GLE, faked a pass, and then snapped a low-to-low shot to the far pipe for the game winner, 11-10.
“Aiden Christensen played phenomenal, just played steady, he was really consistent today,” commented Park City head coach Nick Gradinger, “These types of games just find a way to go to overtime. It’s been a really tumultuous year and our guys really worked hard this week to help form our identity, and I think we made some strides today in terms of team culture and the effort we put on the field — so we’re really happy with that.”

Photos courtesy of Steve O'Camb
Photos courtesy of Steve O’Camb
Along with Christensen, Park City’s Zack Danninger also had a big game, netting a hat trick on the day; Palo Verde’s Bradley Simoncelli matched Danninger with a hat trick of his own.
The game was a back-and-forth affair early, with Park City leading by one, 3-2, after the first quarter. The Miners used a strong and physical ride in the second quarter to stymie the Panthers and looked like they might run away with the game when they rattled off four straight goals, but Palo Verde’s Peyton Boyd intercepted a clearing pass and was able to score one-on-one with the goalie, taking a big hit in the process, to give some momentum back to the Panthers going into the half, PC leading 7-3.
Photos courtesy of Steve O'Camb
Photos courtesy of Steve O’Camb
The Miners started quarter 3 a man down due to the hit to end the half and would spend much of the third quarter down a man. Palo Verde capitalized with a man-up goal, a transition goal, and was fortunate when the Miner defense tipped a pass that deflected into the goal. But PC pushed back late in the quarter, snagging two goals including a Christensen push from X, fake pass, low-to-low shot that foreshadowed the game-winner.
“Usually at Park City we talk about playing smart, but the second half of this year has been about playing tough,” said Coach Gradinger, “I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how physical our guys have been. In [this] type of game, if you don’t match physicality with a well-coached team, things are going to go sideways pretty quick, so I was happy to see guys rise to the occasion. We’re looking forward to tomorrow — it’s a phenomenal Coronado team that we’re playing, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Park City will take on the top-100 Coronado Cougars on Sunday, and Palo Verde will play the host Juan Diego Soaring Eagle.

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