They played hard until the end, but you wouldn’t have blamed Sun Valley Suns senior men’s hockey players if they had thrown up the white flag of surrender during Saturday’s game against the skillful New York St. Nicks visitors.
St. Nicks was that good, even with the bare minimum of nine skaters—two forward lines and a rotation of three defensemen.
Passing crisply, shooting with high velocity and getting great goaltending, St. Nicks reeled off eight unanswered goals for a 9-1 lead late in the second period. Saturday’s game ended in a 12-3 St. Nicks victory over the Suns that swept the two-game weekend series at Sun Valley Skating Center.
St. Nicks, a century-old franchise and perennially one of the country’s best elite squads, brought a fleet of young and strong ex-NCAA Division 1 college and minor league hockey veterans—all between ages 24 and 30, all raring to go.
Its goalie, 28-year-old Canadian native Mark Sibbald, was a Brown University product and the Southern Professional Hockey League “Goalie of the Year” in 2011, playing for the Huntsville (Ala.) Havoc. He saved 84 of 92 Suns shots and consistently plugged the 5-hole.
St. Nicks out-pointed the Suns 46-19 for the weekend led by former Princeton University tri-captain Kevin Kaiser (4 goals, 5 assists), former Union College star Mark Cook (4 goals Saturday, 9 points weekend) and Plymouth State’s Dave Walters of Ontario (4 goals).
With Saturday’s setback, the Suns (7-11-0) dropped their third straight game and sixth in the last seven outings. But coach Steve Morcone’s Idaho sextet put together an excellent comeback Friday from a 5-0 first-period deficit and made it close before falling 7-5.
Morcone said Suns goalie Ryan Thomson (34 saves) was outstanding against St. Nicks barrage on Friday. He kept the Suns in the game by stopping 26 of the 27 St. Nicks shots in the second and third periods.
Trailing 6-1, the Suns scored the first four goals of the third period. And they were good goals from not-the-usual goal producers—rookie wing Doug Yeates and veteran center Charles Friedman scoring their second goals of the season, and weekend pickup Chris Nelson netting a power play tally.
Defenseman Rob Morgus set up the Yeates goal early in the third. After goalie Sibbald stopped a Bryan O’Connell breakaway, the Suns came right back with Jackson Morgus chasing a puck behind the Nicks net and centering nicely to Friedman for the goal, 6-3.
Wing Ryan Enrico did most of the grunt work on Nelson’s power play goal—barreling toward the net through two St. Nicks defenders and poking the puck back out to the blueline where Nelson teed it up, with Enrico plugging the lane.
The Suns were at the tail end of another power play when captain Jon Duval skated the puck up the right wing and spotted Enrico streaking up the middle of the ice. Duval gave the puck to Enrico, who stickhandled through the defense and slid it back to Duval for an easy goal against Sibbald.
Aiming for a 6-6 tie with 35 seconds left, the Suns pulled goalie Thomson in favor of an extra attacker, but Nicks center Kaiser won the face-off in his zone and Harvard University’s Brendan Byrne ripped home an end-to-end empty-net decider.
Hockey Source coming this weekend
Hockey Source Hockey Club of Washington State is coming to Sun Valley Skating Center for a two-game series against the Suns Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22-23 at 7 p.m. each night.
This weekend’s benefit group is the Wood River Baseball and Softball Association. WRBSA officials will be at the upcoming games selling tickets for some great raffle prizes.
Coach Morcone confirmed that the Missoula (Mt.) Cutthroats are due to arrive March 1-2 to finalize the Suns 2012-13 season. Those games are make-ups for the snowed-out Suns-Missoula series of Jan. 11-12.
Suns Hockey Summary
St. Nicks 7, Suns 5
Friday, FEBRUARY 15
New York St. Nicks5117
Sun Valley Suns0145
FIRST PERIOD—(1) NY St. Nicks, Kevin Kaiser (Brendan Byrne, Matt Cook), 2:49. (2) NY St. Nicks, Jeff Beck (Dave Walters, Cook), 5:24. (3) NY St. Nicks, Dallas Bossort (Jon Pelle, Beck), 13:14. (4) NY St. Nicks, Kaiser (Cook, Bossort), 13:35. (5) NY St. Nicks, Walters (Beck), 15:21, power play goal.
SECOND PERIOD—(6) SV, Chris Nelson 1 (Charles Friedman), 5:16. (7) NY St. Nicks, Piers-Olivier “PO” Michaud (Kaiser), 11:12.
THIRD PERIOD—(8) SV, Doug Yeates 2 (Rob Morgus, Trevor Thomas), 1:59. (9) SV, Friedman 2 (Jackson Morgus), 7:23. (10) SV, Nelson 2 (Ryan Enrico), 9:39, power play goal. (11) SV, Jon Duval 9 (Enrico), 15:36. (12) NY St. Nicks, Byrne (Kaiser), 19:25, empty net goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—NY St. Nicks 14-13-14 for 41; Sun Valley 22-18-19 for 59.
GOALIES—NY St. Nicks, Mark Sibbald (54 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (40 shots, 34 saves, 2-5-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Dave Patrie (referee), John Heinrich and Eric Wingard (linesmen).
NOTES—Joining the Suns on the blueline and contributing big time with 2 goals was 43-year-old Chris Nelson, a member of the 1990 NCAA Division 1 champion University of Wisconsin team. Nelson played 144 career games for the Badgers from 1988-92 with 11 goals and 31 assists for 42 points. He became one of the country’s top roller hockey players, and also skated for 8 seasons in the minor ice hockey professional leagues from 1992-2000 with teams like Erie, Raleigh, Nashville, Fresno and Tacoma. Most recently Nelson played with Bobby Farrelly’s Northeast Moose Knuckles visiting team that swept the Suns 3-2 and 8-1 Jan. 25-26…..Also lending years of pro experience to the Suns was Marty Flichel, 36, a 5-11, 194-pound Saskatchewan native who played in six different pro leagues over a 20-year career. Flichel started out with the WHL Tacoma Rockets and Kelowna Rockets from 1992-96 where he played 269 games with 101 goals and 200 assists for 301 points. Most of his minor league background consisted of 464 games in the ECHL with 165 goas and 276 assists. Most of that time was spent with the Boise-based Idaho Steelheads starting in 2002. From 2004-12 Flichel played 8 seasons with the Steelheads and was captain of the team for four of those seasons. He was an ECHL All-Star and a member of Boise’s 2007 Kelly Cup championship team in 2007……Suns forward lines were Ryan Enrico-Jamie Ellison/Jon Duval-Bryan O’Connell, Doug Yeates-Charles Friedman-Jackson Morgus, Scotty Winkler-Marty Flichel-Chad Levitan. Defensemen were Ivars Muzis, Rob Morgus, Duval, Bryan Winkler ad Trevor Thomas…..Duval played on defense for the first two periods, with Ellison centering Enrico and O’Connell, then Duval moved up to center Sun Valley’s first line as he’s done most of the 2012-13 season……St. Nicks brought only 9 skaters, so the New York squad used 2 forward lines and skated 3 defensemen. The lines were Jon Pelle-Jeff Beck-Dave Walters and Matt Cook-Kevin Kaiser-P.O. Michaud. Defensemen were Brendan Reich, Dallas Bossort and Brendan Byrne……St. Nicks 5-11, 185-pound goalie Mark Sibbald, 28, from Ontario, Canada played for Brown University from 2005-09. He was the league’s “Goaltender of the Year” in 2010-11 for the Huntsville (Ala.) Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), a team for which he played 2-plus seasons. From 2009-12 Sibbald tended the net for 4 teams in the Central Hockey League including the Bloomington Blaze…….
SUNS 5, St. Nicks 5
Saturday, FEBRUARY 16
New York St. Nicks45312
Sun Valley Suns 1113
FIRST PERIOD—(1) NY St. Nicks, Jon Pelle (Dave Walters, Jeff Beck), 4:41. (2) SV, Marty Flichel 1 (Ryan Enrico), 6:39. (3) NY St. Nicks, Dallas Bossort (P.O. Michaud), 11:05. (4) NY St. Nicks, Walters (Pelle), 15:45. (5) NY St. Nicks, Matt Cook (Michaud), 18:00.
SECOND PERIOD—(6) NY St. Nicks, Cook (Michaud, Kevin Kaiser), 0:42. (7) NY St. Nicks, Cook (Kaiser, Michaud), 3:26, power play and hat trick goal. (8) NY St. Nicks, Walters (Beck), 4:58. (9) NY St. Nicks, Kaiser (Cook), 5:53. (10) NY St. Nicks, Walters (Pelle), 19:21, hat trick goal. (11) SV, Doug Yeates 3 (Charles Friedman, Rob Morgus), 19:33.
THIRD PERIOD—(12) NY St. Nicks, Cook (Kaiser, Beck), 0:46. (13) NY St. Nicks, Kaiser (Cook), 2:11. (14) SV, Trevor Thomas 1 (Flichel, Scott Winkler), 7:38. (15) NY St. Nicks, Pelle (Beck), 18:59.
SHOTS ON GOAL—NY St. Nicks 27-15-15 for 57; Sun Valley 13-10-10 for 33.
GOALIES—NY St. Nicks, Mark Sibbald (30 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (26 minutes, 33 shots, 26 saves, 2-6-0 record) and Cody Levitan (34 minutes, 24 shots, 19 saves).
OFFICIALS—Tyler Hanson (referee), John Heinrich and Eric Wingard (linesmen).
NOTES—The Suns have used 45 different players in 18 games this season….The two teams compiled only 14 penalty minutes all weekend…..Chris Nelson didn’t play tonight, but another Northeast Moose Knuckles player skated for the home team. He was Jeff Norton, the 47-year-old former NHL professional from Acton, Mass. who played collegiately for the University of Michigan.…….Suns leading scorer Bryan O’Connell was held without a goal or assist for the fifth straight game, dating back to his second-period goal in the 3-2 loss to the Moose Knuckles Jan. 25…….Trevor Thomas scored his first goal of the season for the Suns…..St. Nicks out-pointed the Suns 46-19 during the 2-game Camp Rainbow Gold benefit series…..Top Suns point producers with 3 weekend points apiece were Charles Friedman (1-2) and Ryan Enrico (0-3)……Each of the 9 St. Nicks skaters boasted NCAA Division 1 and professional experience. Jon Pelle, 26, from West Islep, N.Y. scored 39 goals and 58 assists in 135 games for Harvard University from 2004-08, playing on ECAC and Ivy League championship teams. He played 2 seasons for the CHL Rapid City Rush, with 44 goals in 88 games, and was a member of the 2010 CHL championship team in that city. Pelle also was the top scorer with 55 goals and 55 assists and the “Forward of the Year” in the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) Cardiff Devils in Wales, U.K. in 2010-11. Pelle then skated for the EIHL Belfast Giants in 2011-12……Kevin Kaiser, 26, who led St. Nicks with 9 weekend points (4 goals, 5 assists), came out of Pelham, N.H. and St. Paul’s School and played 102 games for Princeton University from 2006-10, and was tri-captain his senior year. He is the son of Ken Kaiser, a member of two NCAA Division 2 championship hockey teams at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell…….Scoring 4 goals tonight was Matt Cook, 26, from Belle Mead, N.J. and Tabor Academy. He played for Union College from 2005-09 and also had 9 weekend points……Amassing 7 points was Jeff Beck of Warrington, Pa. who skated for Wesleyan University from 2006-10……Totaling 6 points was Dave Walters, 24, of Ontario, who played for Plymouth State College from 2010-11 after a stint with the Ontario Junior Senators from 2007-10…..Other St. Nicks skaters included Pier-Olivier Michaud, 24, a Quebec skater who played 99 games for Harvard University from 2007-11 and came out of the AJHL Portland (Me.) Junior Pirates; Brendan Reich, a 5-10, 195-pounder from Montvale, N.J. and Taft School who scored 25 goals and 60 points for Bowdoin College from 2007-11; Dallas Bossort from Bismarck, N.D., a 6-0, 195-pounder who played 92 games for Wesleyan University from 2005-09; and Brendan Byrne, 29, of Milton, Mass. who skated for Harvard from 2005-07 and also was the second baseman on the Crimson baseball team in the spring.