The Sun Valley Suns finally got their power play working against the Jackson Hole (Wyo.) Moose Saturday night in the final senior men’s hockey game of 2012 at Sun Valley Skating Center.
Third-year right wing Bryan O’Connell scored a three-goal hat trick—his 12th as a Suns skater—and finished with his Suns career best of four goals as the Suns polished off the short-handed Moose 9-3 in the finale of a two-game series.
It was the 590th win in 38 seasons of Suns hockey.
Having lost six of their last seven meetings against the Moose, and all three this winter, the Suns poured home six power-play goals including three by leading scorer O’Connell (7 points weekend, 12 goals and 4 assists in 8 games).
Suns coach Steve Morcone said, “Our power play finally started clicking. We got pucks on net and traffic in front of the net, and got some results. I thought we played really well.
“The Moose had beaten us three in a row this season. We talked about it in the locker room beforehand and decided there was no way the Moose were going to beat us again.”
Sun Valley also got two goals apiece by veteran wing Scott Winkler, one on the power play and one shorthanded, and also from 21-year-old Mercyhurst College defenseman Jamie Knight, the younger brother of all-time University of Wisconsin leading goal scorer Hilary Knight of Sun Valley.
Center Jon Duval put the Suns ahead for good 4-1 with a coast-to-coast rush and power play goal midway through the second period.
The Suns scored four goals in the second period alone, all on the power play, and put four unanswered goals into the net after Jackson Hole’s Brian Hannafin knotted the game 1-1 midway through the first.
Suns goalie Cody Levitan made 23 saves as the Moose, playing with a short bench, managed only one goal in each period after nipping the Suns 4-3 in an overtime shootout Friday on resort ice.
In the final game of the four-game series between the two ski resort rivals, Sun Valley (4-4-0) handed the Moose (7-1-0) its first loss of the season. The physical game featured 63 penalty minutes and three game misconducts, two to the Moose.
Jackson Hole leads the 13-year Suns-Moose series 33-20-1 but the teams are tied 14-14 on Idaho ice. It was the sixth time in 54 games the Suns had scored nine or more goals when playing Jackson Hole.
O’Connell moved into 50th place on the all-time Suns scoring list with 55 goals and 32 assists for 87 points. And defenseman Ivars Muzis (57 goals, 141 assists for 198 points), with four assists Saturday, tied Steve Bohner for No. 20 on the all-time Suns scoring sheet.
Last weekend’s benefit was Sun Valley Adaptive Sports.
Next: The Suns entertain the Rebels of Salt Lake (Utah) for the second time in three weeks. Opening faceoffs are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 4-5 at Sun Valley Skating Center.
The Utah Rebels (11-5-0) are the Mountain West Hockey League leaders to this point, but the Suns swept a shorthanded Rebels squad 10-3 and 6-2 on Dec. 21-22. This weekend’s benefits are Girls on the Run on Friday and Sawtooth Pony Club on Saturday, Jan. 5.
Suns Hockey Summary
MOOSE 4, suns 3 (shootout)
friday, dECEMBER 28
Sun Valley Suns10113
FIRST PERIOD—(1) Jackson Hole, Brian Hannafin 6 (Joe Casey), 5:48, power play goal. (2) Jackson Hole, Nick Dolentz 3 (Brian Upesleja, Luke Smith), 14:32, power play goal. (3) SV, Bryan O’Connell 8 (John Miller), 16:32.
SECOND PERIOD—No scoring.
THIRD PERIOD—(4) SV, Jon Duval 5 (O’Connell, Miller), 10:17.
OVERTIME (5 minutes, 4-on-4)—No scoring.
SHOOTOUT—(5) Jackson Hole, Spencer Morton 4. (6) SV, Chad Levitan 4. (7) Jackson Hole, Upesleja 2, game-winning goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Jackson Hole 7-7-4-2-3 for 23; Sun Valley 7-18-18-6-3 for 52.
GOALIES—Jackson Hole, Dan Ambroski (49 saves); Sun Valley, Cody Levitan (19 saves, 3-3-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Chris Benson and John Heinrich.
NOTES—Suns forward lines featured John Miller-Jon Duval-Bryan O’Connell, Scott Winkler-Jamie Ellison-Chad Levitan, and Jack Morgus-Charles Friedman-Doug Yeates/Taylor Rothgeb….The Suns played six defenseman with Ivars Muzis, Trevor Thomas, Danny Ward, Bryan Winkler, Jamie Knight and Rob Morgus. Back-up goalie was Tony Benson……Jackson Hole brought only 11 skaters (the Suns had 17) and the Moose played mainly two forward lines. They were Brian Hannafin-Joe Casey-Ryan Tufte along with Spencer Morton, and Winston Feyereisen-Luke Smith-Ben Pullar…. Defensemen were James Dudley, Miller Resor and Nick Dolentz….. The Moose didn’t bring leading scorer Alex Biegler (8 goals, 5 assists in 6 games), who burned the Suns for a hat trick in the 6-2 Moose victory at Snow King Center Dec. 8. In that two-game Moose sweep, the Jackson Hole skaters were 3-for-5 on the power play, compared to the Suns’ 0-for-7. Spencer Morton and Brian Hannafin, who made the Sun Valley trip, each had 3 goals during the Dec. 7-8 Moose sweep in Wyoming…..Rob Morgus absorbed a serious shot to the head crossing the goal mouth in front of Dan Ambroski three minutes into the third period and immediately went down. When he got up, Morgus was groggy. Official Chris Benson guided him to medical help in the penalty box and Morgus didn’t play the rest of the game…..
suns 9, moose 3
friday, dECEMBER 29
Jackson Hole Moose1113
Sun Valley Suns2439
FIRST PERIOD—(1) SV, Bryan O’Connell 9 (unassisted), 5:19, power play goal. (2) Jackson Hole, Brian Hannafin 7 (Matt Kruvant, Nick Dolentz), 10:17. (3) SV, Jamie Knight 3 (unassisted), 17:10.
SECOND PERIOD—(4) SV, O’Connell 10 (Jon Duval, Ivars Muzis), 1:19, power play goal. (5) SV, Duval 6 (Danny Ward), 9:16, power play goal. (6) SV, Scott Winkler 3 (O’Connell, Jamie Knight), 10:59, power play goal. (7) Jackson Hole, Hannafin 8 (Winston Feyereisen, Ryan Tufte), 12:03, power play goal. (8) SV, Jamie Knight 4 (Muzis, Will Knight), 16:57, power play goal.
THIRD PERIOD—(9) Jackson Hole, Brian Upesleja 3 (Hannafin), 2:03. (10) SV, O’Connell 11 (Muzis, Duval), 7:25, power play and hat trick goal. (11) SV, Scott Winkler 4 (Danny Ward), 14:29, shorthanded goal. (12) SV, O’Connell 12 (Muzis, Doug Yeates), 16:21.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Jackson Hole 11-7-8 for 26; Sun Valley 17-14-23 for 54.
GOALIES—Jackson Hole, Dan Ambroski (45 saves, 4-1-0 record); Sun Valley, Cody Levitan (23 saves, 4-3-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Chris Benson and Dave Patrie.
NOTES—Suns forward lines featured Doug Yeates-Jon Duval-Bryan O’Connell, Scott Winkler-Chad Levitan-Jack Morgus, and Blake King/Taylor Rothgeb-Charles Friedman-Will Knight. Suns defensemen were Bryan Winkler, Danny Ward, Jamie Knight, Trevor Thomas, Ivars Muzis and Zak Greenawalt. Back-up goalie was Bobby Farrelly…….Taylor Rothgeb left the game after being boarded hard in the second period. He had separated one shoulder earlier in the season and sat out for a couple of weeks, and the new injury separated his other shoulder. Suns coach Steve Morcone thought Rothgeb might be sidelined for some time.…..Morcone said Rob Morgus suffered a concussion in Friday’s game, joining Ryan Kolquist (concussion) on the sideline……Ryan Enrico continues to be sidelined by a knee injury he suffered on the first shift of the Utah Rebels game Dec. 21, Morcone added.. It’s one of the few times Enrico has been sidelined in 10 seasons as a durable Suns wing…..Goalie Ryan Thomson’s injured knee still isn’t 100%, Morcone said, but he hopes to have Thomson back sometime in the near future……Brothers Jamie Knight and Will Knight both needed 6-to-8 stitches from Dr. Tony Buoncristiani during tonight’s game. Will Knight, 18, wears a visor with his helmet, but he absorbed a hit that pushed the visor into his nose. Jamie Knight, 21, was boarded by Jackson Hole’s Spencer Morton early in the third period and cut his forehead above an eye. Morton not only drew a 5-minute boarding penalty, he received the second Jackson Hole game misconduct of the contest. Just 13 seconds before, Sun Valley’s Chad Levitan and Jackson Hole’s Luke Smith both received fighting majors and game misconducts from official Chris Benson. It was the second time Levitan and Smith had battled, the first time resulting in 4-minute roughing penalties in the second period near the Moose goal. That first Levitan-Smith encounter came after Scotty Winkler poked home a Jamie Knight shot from the point for a power play goal stretching the Suns lead to 5-1……Bryan O’Connell led the weekend scoring with 5 goals and 2 assists….O’Connell’s hat trick was his 12th career Suns hat trick in just 33 games….It was his first 4-goal game……Jamie Knight, who has 4 goals in three Suns holiday games, is a 6-4, 220-pound defenseman for Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa. This season, Knight has 3 goals and 8 assists in 21 games for Mercyhurst (13-9-0), a four-year Catholic liberal arts college in northwestern Pennsylvania that competes in the American College Hockey Association (ACHA) Men’s Division 1. He previously played for the Boston Bulldogs Junior A squad……Morcone expects Knight to skate for the Suns this weekend against the Utah Rebels. Mercyhurst resumes intercollegiate action Jan. 12 at Duquesne University…..