Last year, as the Bingham hockey team left Chicago after an 0-3 trip to the high school national championships, the Miners were still feeling a bit raw.
But even then — and especially now that the national championships are being held in Salt Lake City — they’re glad they had the experience.
“We weren’t sure what we were getting into last year,” senior defenseman Dillon Doxey said. “Because we went last year, now we know what to prepare for.”
Bingham hockey might be best-known to fans in this state for finishing runner-up in each of the last two state championship games. It has reached the big game, but just hasn’t won.
But that record alone doesn’t give meaning to how quickly the Miners have developed a consistent program in only five years of existence. They haven’t won a state championship. They haven’t won a national tournament game.
But at this rate, they’re going to — sooner or later.
“There have been a lot of teams that say we aren’t good because we play in the South Division,” senior Jordan Burt says. “I think we’ve proven we can be at that level. We’ve beaten Murray and Viewmont, and a bunch of other teams who have been around a lot longer than we have.”
It’s been a wild ride for the Miners — particularly this group of seniors. They’ve gone from an afterthought in a division widely considered inferior to the forefront of hockey in the state.
A lot has to do with the stars of the program. Center Cody Bohin led the state with 46 goals this year. Defensemen Doxey and Dimitrios Fuskandrakis were solid on the back end, but also generated plenty of offense with stick control.
But those players are quick to give credit to the supporting cast — the guys on the second line or the ones who don’t show up in as many box scores. Whereas some programs can become about the talented few and everyone else, the Miners feel their success is based on being a team.
“In general, our whole school has really good sports programs,” Bohin says. “We don’t expect one guy to do everything. Everyone contributes. Even the guys who are new, we encourage them because you can get better in just a few months if you work hard.”
Wednesday’s first game of the national championships didn’t go well for Bingham, which stayed close to Pinnacle, Ariz., for two periods before falling 9-3.
But the Miners feel confident in general about having “home ice” this year, and being able to get a second shot at some of the top hockey programs in the nation. They know second chances will eventually pay off.
“We know it’s faster, speedier hockey,” Doxey says. “But we know it’s a rare opportunity. We want to make the most of it.”
National high school hockey tournament
Salt Lake Sports Complex
• Brophy (Ariz.) 7, Judge Memorial 2
• Pinnacle (Ariz.) 9, Bingham Miners 3
3:15 p.m. • Judge Memorial vs. Washington Hornets (Wash.)
5:30 p.m. • Bingham vs. Brophy (Ariz.)