In a week when the stock market stumbled, the Sun Valley Suns and East Coast Snipers men’s ice hockey teams invested heavily in defense and stood tall during a crisply-played, no-nonsense two-game series at Sun Valley Skating Center.
Full houses of fans raked in the dividends of watching a splendid series Jan. 24-25 on resort ice.
Coach John Burke and Steve Morcone’s Suns (3-7-0), out-manned physically and in experience, played perhaps their best hockey of the season despite falling 5-3 Friday and 2-1 in overtime to the seasoned Snipers Saturday.
Goalie Bobby Farrelly’s Snipers boasted a roster full of ex- New England college hockey stars who have burnished their love of the game while pursuing successful business careers.
The Snipers stitched together a suffocating defense on the broad shoulders of 6-1, 200-pound Kevin Schaeffer and 6-4, 240-pound Scott Shaunessy (Boston University), 6-3, 215-pound Mike Hartwick (Dartmouth), 6-4, 245-pound Tim Morrison (Quinnipiac) and 6-1, 210-pound Rylan Burns (Amherst).
“It’s always so hard for us to play a team with those kinds of resumes. It’s a pretty awesome team they bring,” said Burke about the Snipers. “But our guys competed all the way through. There’s just a lot of heart on this Suns’ edition.
“And we had our chances to win Saturday night.”
Schooled in the lesson of Friday’s letdown when the Suns coughed up three unanswered goals in the first 10 minutes of the third period, the Sun Valley underdogs stepped up the pace Saturday and resolutely clogged the passing lanes.
Eleventh-year Suns goalie Ryan Thomson, who stopped 89 of the 96 shots he faced over two games, held the Snipers scoreless for 45 minutes after yielding a first-period goal to longtime National Hockey League player Jeff Norton.
Burke said, “Ryan kept us in the game for the first 15 minutes and we weathered the storm. They (the Snipers) move the puck so well around the perimeter. But we kept moving our feet and competing in our zone defense. Our guys just skated their asses off.”
The Suns operated from disadvantages throughout the weekend, certainly physically, but also in skills. The Snipers amassed a 36-15 edge in faceoffs won Saturday, to go with their 42-29 advantage in that department Friday. The Snipers out-shot the home team 96-64 over two games.
Yet the Suns found a way to stay in Saturday’s nail-biter by keeping scoring plays from developing with hustling defense. It is pretty tough, however, to end up winning when a defenseman nets the go-ahead goal each game.
Friday’s decisive goal breaking the 3-3 tie came from Schaeffer, 29, the blueliner from Long Island who played 152 games with 17 goals and 37 assists for Boston University from 2003-07—then played five seasons in the AHL and ECHL bushes of Binghamton, Charlotte, Hartford and Las Vegas.
Schaeffer also scored the game-winning goal Saturday with an end-to-end rush after a waved-off icing. He carried the puck up ice on the four-on-four and beat Thomson through a screen for the 2-1 final score.
It was the lowest-scoring game of the 18 played between the two teams since 2006. One chief reason: The Suns held the estimable Snipers forward line of Mark Murphy, Billy Kelleher and BU’s Mike Sylvia to two goals and four points.
Snipers goalie Ryan Simpson from Providence College allowed only one goal in four periods—Friday’s third-period closer job in relief of Farrelly, and Saturday’s 32-save OT success. It was the fifth straight Snipers win over the Suns.
Burke praised the contributions of players like Danny Ward, Brad Miller and “George Jacket” winner David “Jimmy” Dredge, who played on both defense and at forward when Mike Curry took a puck in the mouth Friday.
Suns wing Bryan O’Connell tallied a breakaway goal Friday and added the only Suns goal Saturday. First-year Suns center Derek Grimes was Friday’s No. 3 star.
The Suns next play at home Feb. 14-15. They will run their annual Boulder Mountain Ski Tour aid station Saturday and travel to Park City (Utah) for two games Feb. 7-8.
Suns Hockey Summary
SNIPERS 5, suns 3
FRIday, january 24
|East Coast Snipers
|Sun Valley Suns
FIRST PERIOD—(1) SV, Derek Grimes 5 (Doug Yeates, Danny Ward), 10:38.
SECOND PERIOD—(2) East Coast, Mark Murphy (Bill Kelleher), 2:37. (3) SV, Bryan O’Connell 6 (unassisted), 6:50. (4) East Coast, Mike Sylvia (Kevin Schaeffer, Mark Murphy), 9:08. (5) SV, Mike Curry 5 (Marty Flichel, Grimes), 17:36.
THIRD PERIOD—(6) East Coast, Mike McCarthy (Greg McCarthy), 1:21. (7) East Coast, Schaeffer (Rob Flynn), 8:51. (8) East Coast, Greg McCarthy (Jeff Norton), 10:07.
SHOTS ON GOAL—East Coast 18-19-14 for 51; Sun Valley 8-11-12 for 31.
GOALIES—East Coast, Bobby Farrelly (first 2 periods, 16 saves, 3 goals) and Ryan Simpson (final period, 12 saves, 0 goals); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (46 saves, 3-6-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Tyler Hanson (referee), Mike Punnett and Shawn Sabo (linesmen).
HITS—East Coast 15-7-7 for 29; Sun Valley 9-8-9 for 26.
FACEOFFS WON—East Coast 10-17-15 for 42; Sun Valley 10-8-11 for 29.
TURNOVERS—East Coast 8-5-8 for 21; Sun Valley 10-5-9 for 24 (Kurt Wenzell stats).
CRASH BALLOU’S TOP STARS—No. 1—Bobby Farrelly (East Coast). No. 2—Greg McCarthy (East Coast). No. 3—Derek Grimes (Sun Valley).
NOTES—Suns forward lines were Ryan Enrico-Mike Curry-Marty Flichel, Doug Yeates-Derek Grimes-Bryan O’Connell, Max Kwok-Sinjin Thomas-Trevor Thomas. Defensemen were Ivars Muzis, Zak Greenawalt, Trevor Thomas, Bryan Winkler, Danny Ward and David Dredge…..Back-up Suns goalie for the weekend was Tony Benson……Bryan O’Connell tipped the puck past Snipers forward Mark Murphy in the Suns defensive zone and buried a breakaway goal for a 2-1 Suns lead early in the second period. Less than three minutes later Murphy, a six-year AHL and six-year Europe player from RPI and Duxbury, Ma., set up Boston University’s Mike Sylvia for the game-tying goal at 2-2…….Former University of Minnesota-Duluth skater Mike Curry drilled home a wrist shot giving the Suns a 3-2 lead late in the second period. Shortly after Curry left the ice and went directly to the team doctors in the penalty box after taking a puck to the mouth area. He didn’t play for the rest of the game, forcing Suns coaches John Burke and Steve Morcone to rearrange their forward lines and move David Dredge from defense up to Curry’s forward line for the final period. Burke said Curry suffered a slight concussion but fortunately didn’t lose any teeth. Burke said, “Coulda been a lot worse. Kept all his chicklets. Tough Duluth lips. Slight concussion. A lot of thread.”…..Officials huddled to discuss Mike McCarthy’s game-tying goal at 3-3 just 1:21 into the third period. There was some question about whether the net was dislodged before or after the shot……Suns center Sinjin Thomas hit the pipe with a shot, from Ryan Enrico, in an unsuccessful bid for a 4-4 tie with 10 minutes left…..Professional golf caddie Burke is working for 13-time PGA tour winner Mark Calcavecchia, 53, at the $6.1 million Waste Management Phoenix Open Jan. 30-Feb. 2 in Arizona. It’s been about five years since Burke carried a bag for Calcavecchia, a 6-0, 230-pounder from the Univ. of Florida who turned pro in 1981 and is now a two-time winner on the Champions Tour. Calcavecchia would have been a good candidate for a role in Bobby Farrelly’s “Kingpin” movie. Raised by a father who operated a bowling alley in Nebraska, Calcavecchia averaged 185 at the age of 13 and 40 years later, now averages 205. He has two bowling alleys in his home at Tequesta., Fla……..Leading the Moose Knuckles and wearing the unique No. 899 and 69 jersey was Jeff Norton, 48, a 6-2, 200-pound Massachusetts native who played 797 NHL games from 1987-2002 for eight different teams, most prominently the New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers. Norton played three years at the University of Michigan from 1984-87 and was a member of the U.S. Olympic hockey team at Calgary in 1988.…….Returning for the Snipes this year was Billy Kelleher from North Reading, Mass., a senior captain for Dartmouth College in 1996 and the Big Green's second-leading scorer in 1993. He is still Dartmouth's seventh-leading all-time assists man with 76 in 115 games..……Gutter Snipes goalie Bobby Farrelly, 55, who lives north of Ketchum, comes from Cumberland, R.I. and went to RPI on a hockey scholarship. He and his older brother Peter made their first feature film, "Dumb and Dumber," in 1994 and have since made movies like "There's Something About Mary," "Kingpin," "Shallow Hal," “Hall Pass,” and "Fever Pitch."…..The Moose Knuckles had a roster of 19 players including 12 from Massachusetts and two from New Hampshire…..There was only one Canadian, Rylan Burns from Jasper, Alberta and Amherst College…..Other notable Moose Knuckles included the two of the McCarthys from Medfield, Mass. Mike McCarthy, 29, tallied 24 goals in 77 games at New York State’s Hobart College from 2003-07, then played 2 years in Holland….Greg McCarthy, 28, played 58 games at Tufts University with 30 goals from 2005-08, then played a year in Holland……East Coast forward lines tonight were Mark Murphy-Billy Kelleher-Mike Sylvia, Jeff Norton-Mike McCarthy-Greg McCarthy with Bill Henderson jumping in, Ted Brzek-Rob Flynn-Peter Smith. Defensemen were Scott Shaunessy, Kevin Schaeffer, Rylan Burns, Tim Morrison and Mike Hartwick…..Hartwick, 30, from Bedford, N.H., played the blueline for Dartmouth College from 2003-07. He was on Big Green teams that won the ECAC championship in 2006 and the Ivy League title in 2007. Hartwick also skated in the ECHL and for a couple of years with Cardiff in Wales. He was the New Hampshire Division 1 Player of the Year in his final season at Bishop Guwertin High School.
SNIPERS 2, SUNS 1 (ot)
SATURday, JANUARY 25
FIRST PERIOD—(1) East Coast, Jeff Norton (Scott Shaunessy, Greg McCarthy), 14:39.
SECOND PERIOD—(2) SV, Bryan O’Connell 7 (Bryan Winkler, Doug Yeates), 0:41.
THIRD PERIOD—No scoring.
OVERTIME (5 minutes)—(3) East Coast, Kevin Schaeffer (unassisted), 2:23, game-winning goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—East Coast 14-15-14-2 for 45; Sun Valley 12-10-10-1 for 33.
GOALIES—East Coast, Ryan Simpson (32 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (43 saves, 3-7-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Tyler Hanson (referee), Eric Wingard and Shawn Sabo (linesmen).
HITS—East Coast 8-7-8 for 23; Sun Valley 8-7-11 for 26.
FACEOFFS WON—East Coast 13-11-12 for 36; Sun Valley 4-9-2 for 15.
TURNOVERS—East Coast 7-7-8 for 22; Sun Valley 8-8-9 for 25 (Kurt Wenzell stats).
NOTES—The Suns Legends team skated to an 8-1 victory in tonight’s preliminary Legends game with the East Coast visitors. Suns Legends defenseman Mark Stone isn’t ordinarily a scoring threat, but he buried two clean goals to lead his team. Also scoring two goals apiece were Frank Salvoni and Charles Friedman. Former Suns forward Brian Watts accounted for the Snipers Legends tally. Tony Benson (first 2 periods) and David Stone had the goaltending duties for the Suns Legends, while Pat Ballou (first period) and Bobby Farrelly (final 2 periods) manned the Snipers Legends net…….Suns forward lines were Doug Yeates-Derek Grimes-Bryan O’Connell, Ryan Enrico-Tom Bardis-Marty Flichel, Tyson Cox-Sinjin Thomas-David Dredge. Defensemen were Ivars Muzis, Brad Miller, Danny Ward, Bryan Winkler and Zak Greenawalt….Boise skater Tyson Cox was playing his first Suns game. The Snipers lent the Suns a forward after Mike Curry was injured in Friday’s game. That forward centering a line for the Suns tonight was Tom Bardis, a 5-9, 195-pounder from Alpharetta, Ga. who played collegiately with the University of Wisconsin. Bardis, 27, also skated for St. Lawrence University……East Coast captains were Billy Kelleher and Scott Shaunessy…..Snipers forward lines were Jeff Norton-Mike McCarthy-Greg McCarthy, Mark Murphy-Billy Kelleher-Mike Sylvia, Peter Smith-Ted Brzek-Rob Flynn. Defensemen were Scott Shaunessy, Kevin Schaeffer, Tim Morrison, Rylan Burns and Mike Hartwick…..Suns goalie Ryan Thomson made a number of great saves to get his team into overtime. After the Snipers had two straight power plays in the second period, and Suns penalty killers erased both, Thomson stopped a point-blank shot by Dartmouth’s Mike Hartwick. The veteran Suns goalie robbed Jeff Norton of the Snipers twice, the first time with his stick on the short side late in the second period as Norton swept in alone, shorthanded, and the second time eight minutes into the third period on another good shorthanded chance. In overtime, Thomson saved a Kevin Schaeffer backhand and a Mark Murphy wrist shot, before Schaeffer came down and scored the game winner….The Snipers defense also came up big. Tim Morrison sacrificed his body, laying out to stop a Marty Flichel chance four minutes into the third, and goalie Ryan Simpson robbed Suns substitute center Tom Bardis and Bryan O’Connell in the final seven minutes.