Team battles odds to score wins
The Park County Ice Cats youth pee wee hockey team currently sits in fourth place in the Wyoming Amateur Hockey League standings following a 2-1-1 performance this past weekend at Riley Arena in Cody. The team earned a win and a tie against Sheridan before splitting games against Douglas.
Carter Johnson scored four of the Ice Cats’ five goals in a 5-5 tie on Friday. His first two goals were sandwiched around a Tyrell Christensen goal to give the team a 3-0 lead at the first intermission. Sheridan rallied to take the lead with four goals in the second period and added another 41 seconds into the final period for a 5-3 lead.
That was the cue for Johnson to heat up. He moved the Ice Cats within a goal five minutes into the final period before knocking home the equalizer with 3:27 remaining.
Scoring was at a premium in Saturday morning’s rematch between the teams. Sheridan struck first in the first period. Johnson and Bryson Miranda scored five minutes apart in the second period to account for Park County’s only goals.
Goalie Hayden Brandon steered away 17 of the 18 shots put on net by Sheridan.
Saturday evening saw the team go head-to-head with the Ice Cats of Douglas. Miranda and Johnson got the team off to a 2-0 start by the first intermission. Douglas scored twice in the second period, but Johnson sandwiched a pair of goals between to keep the Park County team ahead by two goals.
Carson Asher provided a bit of drama just before the second intermission, scoring with one second remaining to put the local Ice Cats in front 5-2.
Miranda and Tyrell Christensen added third-period goals. Asher then provided an encore performance, redirecting a puck out of the air and into the goal as the final horn sounded on Park County’s 8-2 victory.
The team’s only weekend defeat came Sunday. Mackenzie Simpson scored the only first-period goal to give Park County the lead. The team added a second-period hat trick from Johnson and another Simpson goal, but saw Douglas’ Alan Grimes also net three goals in the frame.
Leading 5-3 going into the final period, Park County ran out of steam in the final period. Grimes struck again early in the third period. That set the stage for four Brayden Hunsicker goals in a four-minute span for Douglas before Grimes tallied his last goal of the night for a 9-5 Douglas win.
The performance left the Park County squad in fourth place within the 10-team league. The Ice Cats’ position in the standings is more impressive considering the team’s makeup. While the average league roster for teams features 16 players in the 11-12 age range, Park County had just seven players report for play this winter. To make up for the difference, the team brought up six players from a younger division, who then had to be quickly schooled on the changes to playing in an age division that allows checking on the ice.
The lack of children out for the sport could endanger future seasons for the Pee Wee hockey program.
Powell youth on the team this year include Lauren Asher, Hattie Pimentel, Rhett Pimentel, Carson Asher and Hayden Branden.
Carson Asher and Johnson both play for the Wyoming State Pee Wee hockey team. Johnson currently leads the state in points in the pee wee age division.
The Park County Ice Cats continue play on Feb. 11 and 12 with games against Riverton at Riley Arena in Cody. The team will travel to Cheyenne for the state championships on Feb. 25.