The Sun Valley Suns senior men’s hockey team is back in action Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15-16 on resort ice hosting one of the country’s best elite squads—New York St. Nicks—featuring a roster full of skilled former Division 1 skaters.
Coach Steve Morcone’s Suns (7-9) are coming off a series split against the Park City (Utah) Pioneers last weekend and are eager to stretch their legs and line up shots before home fans in a two-game benefit for Camp Rainbow Gold.
Opening faceoffs are 7 p.m. at Sun Valley Skating Center.
St. Nicks last visited Sun Valley on the same Presidents’ Day weekend in 2007. Although short-benched, the New York skaters entered that series having won four of the last six USA Hockey Elite Full-Check national titles. But the Suns won 3-2 and 9-4 en route to a 23-1-0 season. Ryan Enrico scored the game winner in the 3-2 game.
In January, St. Nicks brought the same goalie it used six years ago in Sun Valley, 2005 Yale University graduate Pete Cohen, when the Big Apple boys visited Jackson Hole for a two-game series against the Moose. The Moose (13-3) won the first game 7-6 in shootout and St. Nicks gained a split 7-3 in the Saturday night affair.
Last weekend at Park City, the Suns won the Friday game 5-2 behind goalie Ryan Thomson (41 saves) and getting two goals apiece from Chad Levitan and from Rebels of Salt Lake pick-up Brandon Henricksen. Besides five Rebels pick-ups, the Suns also started 47-year-old former NHL pro Jeff Norton, the University of Michigan defenseman from Acton, Mass.
The win ended a three game Suns losing skid. Park City (7-8) won 8-2 Saturday and thus split the season series 2-2. The Pioneers broke open a 2-2 game with five unanswered goals in the second stanza, two of them in shorthanded situations.
In Saturday’s game Park City out-shot Sun Valley 47-28, and the Pioneers shooting advantage was 43-38 Friday.
Suns Hockey Summary
SUNS 5, PIONEERS 2
FRIday, FEBRUARY 8
Sun Valley Suns2125
Park City Pioneers1102
FIRST PERIOD—(1) SV, Brandon Henricksen (Rustin Hocker, Weston Nash), 12:20. (2) SV, Jon Duval 8 (Ryan Enrico), 18:47. (3) Park City, Tom Gatta 10 (Aaron Burrell), 19:37.
SECOND PERIOD—(4) SV, Chad Levitan 7 (unassisted), 8:57. (5) Park City, A.J. Sanders 9 (unassisted), 18:34, power play goal.
THIRD PERIOD—(6) SV, Henricksen (Hocker, Jeff Norton), 5:46. (7) SV, Chad Levitan 8 (Todd Potemba, Norton), 7:08.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Sun Valley 38; Park City 43.
GOALIES—Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (41 saves, 2-3-0 record); Park City, Kyle Gover (33 saves).
PIONEERS 8, suns 2
saturday, FEBRUARY 9
Sun Valley Suns2002
Park City Pioneers2518
FIRST PERIOD—(1) SV, Weston Nash (Ryan Enrico, Tim Monell), 2:21. (2) Park City, Michael Spawton (Rob Christie, Mikey Diersen), 3:16. (3) SV, Monell (Nash, Kyle Becci), 10:56. (4) Park City, Brian Babbitt (Bobby Ward, A.J. Sanders), 11:01.
SECOND PERIOD—(5) Park City, David Imonti 4 (Sean Baron), 4:06, shorthanded goal. (6) Park City, Babbitt 9 (Sanders, Ward), 7:08. (7) Park City, Sanders 10 (P.J. Nelson), 7:58. (8) Park City, Tommy Rupp 8 (Nick Liotta, Ken Anctil), 10:14, shorthanded goal. (9) Park City, Tom Gatta 11 (Sanders, Ward), 10:50.
THIRD PERIOD—(10) Park City, Rupp 9 (Liotta, Scotty John), 3:20.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Sun Valley 11-8-9 for 28; Park City 19-20-8 for 47.
GOALIES—Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (first 31 minutes, 36 shots, 29 saves, 2-4-0 record) and Cody Levitan (final 29 minutes, 11 shots, 10 saves); Park City, Eric Moldenhauer (26 saves).