They drove a slow six-and-a-half hours through wintry weather from Idaho to Park City, Utah Friday for their two-game men’s hockey series with the Park City Pioneers.
Yet the long drive was worth it for Sun Valley Suns players, who swept a two-game road series for the first time in seven years.
Led by the forward line of captain Ryan Enrico, Mike Curry and Spencer Brendel, they shrugged off a slow start Friday and put together 8-4 and 7-6 wins over the Pioneers.
Enrico, closing in on the 300-point career scoring mark, joined his linemates to pile up 15 of the 36 Suns points on the weekend. Curry (weekend-best 7 points) and Brendel scored seven of the 15 Suns goals
Second-year wing Brendel had a three-goal hat trick Friday after the Suns spotted the Pioneers an early 2-0 lead. His production highlighted an explosion of eight unanswered Suns goals in a 26-minute span in the first and second periods.
On Saturday night, the Suns (5-7-0) built a 6-1 lead with Curry scoring two more goals. Park City (11-9-0) charged back with three power-play goals in the second period to close the gap but still fell short 7-6 for its fourth consecutive loss.
Suns defenseman Trevor Thomas tallied his first goal of the season midway through the third period for the eventual game winner, on passes from Derek Grimes (3 goals, 2 assists weekend) and David Dredge (4 assists).
Goalie Ryan Thomson was a major factor once again. Thomson earned his 78th and 79th career Suns wins by making 61 saves for the two-game series at Park City Ice Arena that benefited women’s breast cancer awareness.
Suns coach John Burke said, “We’ve lost a lot of close games this season, but the guys have been working hard in practice and it paid off on this trip. I’m real happy with the road sweep—it’s been a while for something like that.”
Dating back to 2007, actually, the 23-1-0 Suns season when the Suns went 6-0 on the road with sweeps at McCall, Jackson Hole and Park City.
Burke added, “The boys played great this weekend. They buckled down—winning battles and races. They had each other’s backs and we had great puck movement. They maximized the big ice surface at Park City.
“All our forward lines were clicking, but the line with Curry, Brendel and Enrico was just outstanding. And (goalie) Ryan Thomson continues to have a very good year.”
“George Jacket” winner was Sun Valley Youth Hockey product Brendel. Forward Max Kwok, also a SVYH alumnus, scored in each game for his first goals of the campaign.
And wing Bryan O’Connell, the three-time Suns leading scorer (a team-best 9 goals on the season) added two goals and two assists for the trip.
“We did have three forward lines, but we had to scramble to get that,” said Burke, who dealt with injuries by recruiting a couple of players from Boise and one from Utah to fill out the weekend roster.
The Suns return to home ice Friday and Saturday, Feb. 14-15 for a two-game series against a Michigan team, with opening faceoffs at 7 p.m. each night. Camp Rainbow Gold is this weekend’s benefit group.
Suns Hockey Summary
suns 8, PIONEERS 4
FRIday, FEBRUARY 7
|Sun Valley Suns
|Park City Pioneers
FIRST PERIOD—(1) Park City, Aaron Burrell 5 (David Imonti, Reid Mayer), 3:30. (2) Park City, Brian Babbitt 16 (Mike Adamek, Scotty John), 9:58. (3) SV, Spencer Brendel 4 (Mike Curry, Ryan Enrico), 11:55. (4) SV, Derek Grimes 6 (Bryan O’Connell, Sinjin Thomas), 19:17. (5) SV, Brendel 5 (David Dredge, Curry), 19:51.
SECOND PERIOD—(6) SV, Curry 6 (Enrico, Trevor Thomas), 8:28. (7) SV, O’Connell 8 (unassisted), 10:22. (8) SV, Max Kwok 1 (Brandon Holmes, Dredge), 15:19. (9) SV, Grimes 7 (O’Connell), 17:54. (10) SV, Brendel 6 (Curry, Trevor Thomas), 18:01, hat trick goal.
THIRD PERIOD—(11) Park City, George Cantrall 6 (Mayer, Matt Long), 11:32. (12) Park City, Cantrall 7 (Levi Wegleitner, Chris Jeavons), 19:38.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Sun Valley 15-15-7 for 37; Park City 14-9-11 for 34.
GOALIES—Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (30 saves, 4-7-0 record); Park City, Eric Moldenhauer 29 saves (5-3-0 record).
NOTES—Suns forward lines were Sinjin Thomas-Derek Grimes-Bryan O’Connell, Ryan Enrico-Mike Curry-Spencer Brendel, Tyson Cox-Brandon Holmes-Max Kwok. Defensemen were Ivars Muzis, Alex Lambert, Trevor Thomas and David Dredge…….Lambert and Suns back-up goalie Steve Gibson were young Boise players recruited for the weekend, coach Burke said. Former Idaho Steelheads veteran Marty Flichel canceled at the last minute because of the bad road conditions. Another Suns recruit, Brandon Holmes, had played with Salt Lake City earlier this season……With Friday’s weather moving in, the drive from Sun Valley to Park City took about six-and-a-half hours, most of the slow moving taking place in Idaho down to Snowville, Utah…….Park City came into the weekend series with an 11-7 season record, the Pioneers most recently having lost 8-2 and 8-2 to the Jackson Hole Moose at Snow King Center in Wyoming Jan. 31-Feb. 1. Park City also lost twice at Jackson Hole 8-5 and 6-2 Nov. 15-16, and will host the Moose March 21-22 at Park City Ice Arena after traveling to Sun Valley for the Suns season finale March 14-15…..Women’s breast cancer awareness, or “Women Beyond Cancer,” was this weekend’s benefit at Park City Ice Arena.
suns 7, PIONEERS 6
SATURday, FEBRUARY 8
|Sun Valley Suns
|Park City Pioneers
FIRST PERIOD—(1) SV, Mike Curry 7 (Ryan Enrico, Max Kwok), 1:57. (2) SV, Derek Grimes 8 (unassisted), 4:24. (3) SV, Kwok 2 (unassisted), 7:31, shorthanded goal. (4) Park City, Bobby Ward (unassisted), 18:57. (5) SV, Bryan O’Connell 9 (Grimes), 19:46.
SECOND PERIOD—(6) SV, Spencer Brendel 7 (Curry), 1:05. (7) SV, Curry 8 (David Dredge, Brendel), 6:11. (8) Park City, Chris Jung 6 (Dane Ludolph), 15:58, power play goal. (9) Park City, Nick Liotta 8 (Brian Babbitt), 16:16, power play goal. (10) Park City, Michael Spawton 5 (Chris Roberts), 17:16, power play goal. (11) Park City, Roberts 2 (Ward), 19:51.
THIRD PERIOD—(12) SV, Trevor Thomas 1 (Grimes, Dredge), 12:16, power play goal. (13) Park City, no scorer of record.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Sun Valley 17-14-10 for 41; Park City 12-16-9 for 37.
GOALIES—Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (31 saves, 5-7-0 record); Park City, Kyle Gover (33 saves, 4-4-0 record).
NOTES—Suns captain Ryan Enrico boosted his 11-year Suns career statistics to 128 goals and 164 assists for 292 points with his three assists during the Utah trip. He is aiming to become the eighth Suns player to crack the 300-point mark…..Enrico was the Suns top goal scorer with 24 goals in 24 games the last time the Suns swept road series, back during the 23-1-0 campaign of 2006-07 when Sun Valley was 6-0 playing away from home. That season, the Suns won 3-1 and 3-1 at McCall, 5-3 and 5-4 at Jackson Hole and 8-7 and 8-6 at Park City.