This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
In a game with more ups and downs and twists and turns than a Lagoon roller coaster, Murray scored late in the third period to take a thrilling 6-4 victory over Park City Wednesday and capture the state high school hockey championship.
The Spartans battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits then, when they seemed safe with a 4-2 third period lead, the Miners got quick goals from Jack Ehlers and Mark Colaizzi to tie it with 7:09 to play.
Just eight seconds later, Murray sophomore Daxton Nielson scored to give the Spartans the lead again.
"We know that we are a team that can score goals and we know that we are on our wheels every single second of every game," Nielson said. "But we aren't going to win 10-1. Dillon Hale got the goalie out of position and all I had to do was put it in the back of the net."
That left the Spartan defense and goalie Mike Richins to stave off a furious Park City attack in the final minutes. The game was in doubt until Jake Elwell grabbed an empty net goal with seconds to play.
Murray coach Tim Hale said that after his team lost 4-0 to Park City on Monday in the double elimination tournament, he moved Hale to forward.
"It's incredible that we scored that many goals," said Hale, who said this was Murray's first state hockey title since the mid-1990s. "We had to put pressure on them and we were lucky to get some goals."
Hale had trouble describing the mood swing in a wild two-minute span that saw Park City tie it before Nielson poked in the winning goal.
"That just shows the heart of our team," he said. "We battle every day."
The game, played before a raucous crowd at the Steiner ice rink, did not start well for Murray. Alec Smith put Park City on the board on a power-play goal. The Spartans' Steward McKenna tied it at 1 in the second period but Smith came right back with his second goal.
Then Murray turned the game around. The Spartans, taking advantage of two Miners in the penalty box and then a traditional power play, got goals from Hale and then Nielson over a 25-second span.
When Elwell got his goal, the Spartan fans began celebrating, only to watch Park City come back.
That set up the final twist in a memorable title game.
• Sophomore Daxton Nielson takes an assist from Dillon Hale to score the go-ahead goal for Murray.
• Alec Smith scores twice for Park City, which led 1-0 and 2-1.
• Hale and Nelson score goals 25 seconds apart to give Murray a 4-2 lead.