You never know when a hockey game is going to bust wide open—just like it seems forever before a losing streak finally comes to an end.
Having lost three straight games and six of their last seven, the Sun Valley Suns senior men’s hockey team needed something to happen Friday in their home encounter with the Hockey Source Hockey Club from Kennewick, Wash.
And, really, nothing much was happening at Sun Valley Skating Center except the Wood River Baseball and Softball Association selling raffle tickets as part of its benefit.
The teams were slogging along in a 1-1 tie early in the third period when the Tri-Cities visitors slipped a puck past Suns goalie Ryan Thomson for a 2-1 lead. Would the Suns fizzle, just as they had yielded 27 goals while scoring 10 in their last three games?
Leading Suns scorer Bryan O’Connell (24 goals, 5 assists for 29 points) was having none of it. Held scoreless himself for five straight games, O’Connell skated the puck past the Hockey Source blue line and whipped a wrist shot high into the Kennewick net for a 2-2 tie.
Forty-two seconds later the tag team of Suns third-line forwards Taylor Rothgeb and Jackson Morgus relentlessly chased down a loose puck and made the play that turned the game—and possibly the Suns season—completely around.
Rothgeb, always hustling but bedeviled by shoulder problems all season, controlled the puck and waited until the perfect moment on the odd-man rush to slide it to Morgus. And Jackson redirected it past Kennewick goalie B.J. Leach for the eventual game winner.
The Suns balcony bums let Leach know about the “5 hole.”
Scotty Winkler (empty net) and co-captain Jon Duval added insurance goals in the final minute for the 5-2 Suns win.
Suns coach John Burke said about the Rothgeb-Morgus combination, “It got us started—biggest play of the game, biggest play of the last three weeks. They were on our ‘energy line,’ and they gave us exactly what we needed.”
Giving the Suns exactly what they needed between the pipes was 10th-year goalie Ryan Thomson. He held Hockey Source scoreless for 65 straight minutes Friday and Saturday nights and nearly posted his seventh career shutout in the 3-1 Suns triumph Saturday night.
Thomson stopped 39 of 41 Hockey Source shots Friday, and 39 of 40 shots Saturday for his 72nd career Suns victory. He helped the Suns achieve only their second two-game sweep of the 2012-13 season.
Burke said, “Ryan was unbelievable—stellar. It wasn’t the prettiest game Friday, but we have so much pride and we were sick of losing. And Ryan’s game in the goal Saturday was his best of the year.”
Filling in for head coach Steve Morcone, who was having a hospital visit last weekend, Burke said, “I thought we had the edge in team speed, something we didn’t have against St. Nicks the last weekend (7-5 and 12-3 home losses).
“But the boys did it for coach ‘Cone.’ Their compete level was off the charts. They have a goal to finish .500 for the season. We’re just taking it one game and one test at a time.”
Defenseman Rob Morgus scored a power play goal early in Saturday’s game. Then the newly-formed forward line of left wing Scotty Winkler, center Chad Levitan and right wing O’Connell provided a pair of second-period goals—Levitan and O’Connell scoring with Winkler’s two assists.
O’Connell was announcer Crash Ballou’s No. 1 star Saturday with his 100th career Suns point. He has 67 goals and 33 assists with just 14 penalty minutes in 45 Suns games.
Needing another two-game sweep, the Suns (9-11-0) will aim for a .500 season when they complete their 22-game winter schedule Friday and Saturday, March 1-2 against the Bozeman (Mont.) Stingers. Opening faceoffs are 7 p.m. each night.
This weekend’s benefit is The Sage School.
Suns Hockey Summary
Suns 5, Hockey source 2
FRIday, FEBRUARY 22
Hockey Source HC1012
Sun Valley Suns1045
FIRST PERIOD—(1) SV, Ivars Muzis 1 (Jon Duval), 7:59. (2) Hockey Source, Brandon Turley (Ricky Doubrava, Ryan Deery), 11:12.
SECOND PERIOD—No scoring.
THIRD PERIOD—(3) Hockey Source, A.J. Sanders (Dustin Boddy, Doubrava), 1:22. (4) SV, Bryan O’Connell 23 (Doug Yeates), 10:03. (5) SV, Jackson Morgus 4 (Taylor Rothgeb, Sinjin Thomas), 10:45. (6) SV, Scott Winkler 6 (unassisted), 19:13, empty net goal. (7) SV, Duval 10 (Yeates), 19:30.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Hockey Source 14-13-14 for 41; Sun Valley 8-13-14 for 35.
GOALIES—Hockey Source, B.J. Leach (30 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (39 saves, 3-6-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Dave Patrie (referee), Tyler Hanson and Eric Wingard (linesmen).
NOTES—Before his game-tying goal in the third period, Suns leading scorer Bryan O’Connell had been held without a goal or assist for five straight games, dating back to his second-period goal in the 3-2 loss to the Northeast Moose Knuckles Jan. 25……Suns forward lines in the Wood River Baseball and Softball Association benefit were Ryan Enrico-Jon Duval-Marty Flichel, Scotty Winkler-Chad Levitan-Bryan O’Connell, Taylor Rothgeb-Sinjin Thomas-Doug Yeates. Defensemen were Ivars Muzis, Rob Morgus and Trevor Thomas…..Hockey Source 6-1, 185-pound goalie B.J. Leach, 23, of Kirkland, Wash. played for Northland College in the USCHO three years ago….Hockey Source forward lines were Yoni Meshulam-John Skoglie-Jason Casey, Ricky Doubrava-Dustin Boddy-A.J. Sanders, Ryan Deery-Dustin Hemming-Brandon Turley. Defensemen were Sean Compton, Deery, Kevin Ogle, Ryan York, C.J. Fisher and Quentin Ray.
SUNS 3, HOCKEY SOURCE 1
Saturday, FEBRUARY 23
Hockey Source HC0011
Sun Valley Suns1203
FIRST PERIOD—(1) SV, Rob Morgus 2 (Ryan Enrico, Marty Flichel), 12:29, power play goal.
SECOND PERIOD—(2) SV, Chad Levitan 9 (Scott Winkler), 4:07. (3) SV, Bryan O’Connell 24 (Scott Winkler, Rob Morgus), 8:49.
THIRD PERIOD—(4) Hockey Source, Brandon Turley (Dustin Hemming), 13:04.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Hockey Source 12-15-13 for 40; Sun Valley 12-7-12 for 31.
GOALIES—Hockey Source, B.J. Leach (28 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (39 saves, 4-6-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Tyler Hanson and Eric Wingard.
NOTES—Tonight’s Crash Ballou No. 1 star Bryan O’Connell reached the 100-point mark in his relatively short three-year Suns career. “OC” has 67 goals and 33 assists……Tenth-year wing Ryan Enrico is No. 8 on the all-time Suns list with 121 goals and 155 assists for 276 points……The other Suns co-captain with Enrico this year, seventh-year center Jon Duval, is nearing the 100-assist mark. Duval has 45 goals and 96 assists for 141 points…..Only a disputed goal with seven minutes remaining prevented 10th-year Suns goalie Ryan Thomson (72-38-0 in 116 Suns games) from recording his seventh career shutout. The Suns protested that Hockey Source had a player in the crease. Thomson last had a shutout Jan. 20, 2012 with 17 saves in an 8-0 home win over the Utah Senior Grizzlies…..Top weekend scorer for the Suns was Scotty Winkler with 3 points……Suns defenseman Trevor Thomas and Ryan York of Hockey Source drew fighting penalties and game misconducts at the end of the second period. It was the third game misconduct of the season for Thomas, who leads the Suns with 63 penalty minutes in 18 games…….Tonight was the last Suns game this season for assistant coach John Burke. Professional golf caddie Burke is traveling for the next three weeks on the PGA tour in Florida working for 31-year-old pro golfer Chez Reavie of Kansas. First tournament in the sequence is the $6 million Honda Classic Feb. 28-March 3 at the PGA National Championship Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Reavie, a Wichita native and resident of Scottsdale, Az. who competed for Arizona State, has won $4.98 million in his nine-year professional career with eight top-10s in 132 pro events. He won the 2008 Canadian Open and was No. 10 in the FedExCup playoffs two seasons ago. Last year Reavie, whose first name is a take-off on his middle name Chesley, won $580,617 and placed No. 132 in the FedExCup standings. This season, Reavie has made two cuts in three events and has won $74,715 to date. His highest finish was a tie for 21st in the Farmers Insurance Open. He ranks 121st in the FedExCup standings with a 71.20 scoring average.