Gearing up for a 22-game schedule, the Sun Valley Suns men’s hockey team travels this week to Jackson Hole, Wyo.
There, Suns players open their 39th season of competition Friday, Dec. 13 against long-time rival Jackson Hole Moose at Snow King Center.
Weekend pucks drop at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13-14 on the Snow King ice.
Suns coaches John Burke and Steve Morcone are assembling their 2013-14 roster and are also looking forward to the team’s home debut Dec. 27-28 against Salt Lake City (Utah) at Sun Valley Skating Center.
At some point the Suns (597-249-29 all time) will exceed the 600-victory franchise mark.
The new team includes four of the top five scorers from last year’s Suns squad (11-11) that won its final four games to finish at the .500 level.
Back are Bryan O’Connell (25 goals, 7 assists), Ryan Enrico (4-16), Chad Levitan (9-8) and Doug Yeates (3-11).
Not skating this season due to injury is seven-year Suns forward Jon Duval, last year’s second-leading scorer (10 goals, 28 points).
One newcomer due is 29-year-old defenseman Alex Redmond, a 6-2, 205-pounder from San Jose, Ca. who should bulk up the blueline.
Back for his 16th Suns campaign is 40-year-old defenseman Ivars Muzis.
The coaching staff is still seeking a back-up for returning 11th-year goalie Ryan Thomson (74-38-0).
Coach Burke said, “We’re still actively pursuing people for the team. Our prospects for that are better than they were a month ago.”
Jackson Hole Moose (4-0) started its 26-game winter schedule in November. The Moose won at home 8-5 and 6-2 over the Park City (Utah) Pioneers Nov. 15-16, and blew out Salt Lake City 8-2 and 8-0 Nov. 22-23 at Snow King Center.
Last season, Sun Valley and Jackson Hole resumed their rivalry for the first time since 2009 with four games.
The Moose swept the Suns 6-5 (shootout) and 6-3 in Wyoming, then the Suns split with Jackson Hole losing 4-3 in another shootout, and finally winning 9-3.
The Moose lead the 13-year series 33-20-1 including a 19-6-1 edge at Snow King Center.
Jackson Hole will visit Sun Valley for two games Jan. 3-4, 2014—kicking off a series of four Suns home weekend series in January capped by the visit of Bobby Farrelly’s East Coast Gutter Snipes on Jan. 24-25.