With Wisconsin’s all-time leading scorer Hilary Knight in the gallery, the Sun Valley Suns men’s ice hockey team picked it up a notch and whipped the Rebels from Salt Lake City, Utah 10-3 Friday.
Left wing Bryan O’Connell notched his 11th career Suns hat trick in just 30 games and right wing Ryan Enrico added two goals and four assists as the Suns (2-3) started a busy Christmas holiday slate with an easy victory over the Mountain West Hockey League leader Utah Rebels (11-4-0).
The third member of O’Connell’s prolific forward line, center Jon Duval, pumped home a power play goal and finished with four assists.
For the night Duval shared playing time on his forward line with former Lake Forest College skater Justin Taylor, who piled up one goal and three assists during the holiday benefit game for Hailey Ice.
So, the Suns No. 1 line including Taylor accounted for 19 of 28 Sun Valley points. Goalie Cody Levitan made 13 saves as the Suns made it two home wins in their last three games.
In the shooting department the Suns were dominant with a 33-16 edge over a shorthanded Rebels squad that brought only five extra skaters. The visitors were outscored 7-1 in the final two periods.
Such impressive scoring became routine for the 23-year-old Hilary Knight at Wisconsin.
She ended her four-year collegiate career as the senior captain for the Wisconsin Badgers last March with a school record 143 goals and 119 assists for 262 points. The 5-10, 170-pound captain had 30 game winners, 37 power play and nine shorthanded career goals.
In addition, Knight was a member of U.S. Women’s National Teams that captured three consecutive gold medals in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) world championships from 2009-11. She scored the overtime game winner in America’s gold medal victory over Canada in 2011 at Zurich, and also led Wisconsin to the 2011 NCAA national title.
A recent Wisconsin graduate, Knight was at Sun Valley Skating Center Friday watching her 18-year-old brother William play for the Suns. She is the eldest of four children. The family of James and Cynthia Knight made Sun Valley its primary residence after a move from New Hampshire in 2009.
Next for the Suns: A Christmas holiday treat is the Future Suns youngsters clashing with the current Suns in a Dec. 26 home exhibition to raise money for youth hockey and the Brett Sammis Scholarship Fund.
Opening faceoff is 7 p.m. today, Wednesday on resort ice.
The Jackson Hole (Wyo.) Moose are the Suns’ guests for a big New Year’s weekend series Dec. 28-29 at Sun Valley Skating Center. Opening faceoffs are 7 p.m. this weekend. The benefit is Sun Valley Adaptive Sports.
Suns Hockey Summary
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FIRST PERIOD—(1) SV, Bryan O’Connell 3 (Jon Duval, Ryan Enrico), 2:34. (2) SV, Duval 4 (Enrico, Danny Ward), 11:12, power play goal. (3) SV, Charles Friedman 1 (Rob Morgus), 11:45. (4) Rebels of Salt Lake, Phil MacDonald (Weston Nash, Todd Potemba), 16:23, power play goal. (5) Rebels of Salt Lake, Brawnson Holtkamp (Brandon Henricksen, Tim Monell), 19:26.
SECOND PERIOD—(6) SV, Enrico 1 (O’Connell, Justin Taylor), 4:54. (7) SV, John Miller 1 (Jamie Ellison, Ward), 7:46. (8) SV, Taylor 1 (Enrico, Ivars Muzis), 18:08.
THIRD PERIOD—(9) SV, O’Connell 4 (Duval, Taylor), 1:02. (10) SV, Ellison 1 (Duval, Taylor Rothgeb), 3:35. (11) SV, O’Connell 5 (Enrico, Taylor), 4:25, hat trick goal. (12) Rebels of Salt Lake, Monell (Johnny Vance), 14:39. (13) SV, Enrico 2 (Duval), 18:14.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Rebels of Salt Lake 7-5-4 for 16; Sun Valley 14-10-9 for 33.
GOALIES—Rebels of Salt Lake , Travis Pierce (23 saves); Sun Valley, Cody Levitan (13 saves, 2-2-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Dave Patrie and Chris Benson.
NOTES—Suns forward lines featured Ryan Enrico-Jon Duval/Justin Taylor-Bryan O’Connell, Taylor Rothgeb/Zak Greenawalt-Jamie Ellison-Chad Levitan, and Rob Morgus-Charles Friedman-William Knight.