Having absorbed their toughest loss of the season Friday with a 9-7 setback to Michigan Sting, the Sun Valley Suns men’s hockey team put together one of its best wins of the campaign 9-2 Saturday.
It was a quick turnaround for the Suns on Camp Rainbow Gold benefit weekend.
Suns coach John Burke said the 9-2 victory highlighted by three-goal hat tricks off the sticks of wings Bryan O’Connell and Spencer Brendel was the “best game of the season in all areas of the game,” for the Suns (6-8-0).
Burke said, “The guys really picked it up a level. They supported each other on defense and our goalie Ryan Thomson played great once again. We got opportunities off transition, and young players like Sinjin Thomas had breakout efforts for us.
“There really is great chemistry in the (locker) room and a lot of pride.”
With Saturday’s victory, the Suns made it three wins in their last four games and have scored 31 goals in those games. O’Connell, a hat trick machine in his first three Suns seasons, enjoyed his first hat trick in 24 games to lead the Suns. And Brendel got his second hat trick in the last four games.
First-year Suns center Derek Grimes added two goals Saturday including a power-play tally and earned the coveted “George Jacket” for what Burke called “a great 200 feet” of end-to-end hockey during Saturday’s triumph.
Suns players could have been dispirited after Friday’s roller-coaster game of runs that a sneaky-good Michigan Sting sextet tucked away 9-7 with four unanswered goals in the final seven minutes.
Give credit to three-goal hat tricks scored by former Wayne State University and Toledo Walleyes forward John Hay, 32, and 29-year-old Paul Scalici from Bentley College and the Toledo Ice Diggers.
Another Michigan Sting star was center Tyler McGregor. His second goal Friday gave the Sting a 5-4 lead. Starring as a senior for Holy Cross (Mass.) in 2006, McGregor scored the overtime game winner as 15th-seeded Holy Cross stunned the Minnesota Golden Gophers 4-3 in the NCAA West Regional. It is still considered one of college hockey’s biggest upsets.
‘Michigan had about seven guys with good resumes,” said Burke about Chris DeLabbio’s Sting squad, one of the Suns oldest rivals making its first visit to Sun Valley Skating Center in nine years.
But the Suns shrugged off their sloppy play Friday that turned 4-2 and 7-5 leads into the disappointing 9-7 loss.
“A crazy game,” said Burke, who stayed up deep into the night writing down remedies to the team’s play—remedies that he said he couldn’t even read in the morning.
The Suns players remedied themselves on the ice.
Saturday night, the home team cut their turnovers by nearly half, with only 18 Saturday compared to 33 on Friday. They made better use of their shots, making nine of 43.
Thomson (40 saves) stopped McGregor twice on shorthanded breakaway situations late in the second period with the Suns leading 6-1, and that was pretty much that.
O’Connell (a team-high 12 goals season) scored twice in the third, once on a great pass from linemate Doug Yeates and again on a steal deep in the Sting zone. Brendel (11 goals season) earned his hat trick on a rebound of a shot by captain Ryan Enrico.
Coach Burke said a scheduling snafu has forced the postponement of the scheduled Feb. 21-22 weekend series with the Langley First Class men’s team from British Columbia, Canada. So, there will be no Suns games this weekend. Burke hopes to reschedule them for March 21-22.
Suns Hockey Summary
Sting 9, suns 7
FRIday, february 14
|Sun Valley Suns
FIRST PERIOD—(1) Michigan, Tyler McGregor (Dante DeLabbio), 5:19. (2) SV, Ryan Enrico 6 (Spencer Brendel), 7:19. (3) Michigan, John Hay (Don DeLabbio), 10:10. (4) SV, Brendel 8 (unassisted), 19:48.
SECOND PERIOD—(5) SV, Sinjin Thomas 2 (Max Kwok), 9:13. (6) SV, David Kvapil 1 (Bryan O’Connell, Derek Grimes), 10:44. (7) Michigan, Paul Scalici (unassisted), 16:53, power play goal. (8) Michigan, Scalici (Jay Duquesne), 17:23. (9) Michigan, McGregor (Dante DeLabbio), 19:26.
THIRD PERIOD—(10) SV, Mike Curry 9 (Brendel, Enrico), 0:24, power play goal. (11) SV, Enrico 7 (Kvapil), 1:12. (12) SV, David Dredge 1 (Sinjin Thomas, Ivars Muzis), 2:30. (13) Michigan, John Hay (Rob McClelland), 12:36. (14) Michigan, Jeff Mikesch (Hay, Ryan Rossnau), 13:56. (15) Michigan, Scalici (Rossnau), 19:03, hat trick goal. (16) Michigan, Hay (Mikesch), 19:51, empty net and hat trick goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Michigan 11-12-20 for 43; Sun Valley 18-16-21 for 55.
GOALIES—Michigan, Steve Gibson (48 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (34 saves, 8 goals, 5-8-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Chris Benson (referee), Tyler Hanson and Mike Punnett (linesmen).
HITS—Michigan 8-11-16 for 35; Sun Valley 7-10-9 for 26.
FACEOFFS WON—Michigan 12-8-8 for 28; Sun Valley 8-12-8 for 28.
TURNOVERS—Michigan 6-11-11 for 28; Sun Valley 11-14-8 for 33 (Kurt Wenzell stats).
NOTES—Suns forward lines were Ryan Enrico-Mike Curry-Spencer Brendel, Doug Yeates-Derek Grimes-Bryan O’Connell, Max Kwok-David Dredge-Sinjin Thomas, with Chase Evangelista the 10th forward. Defensemen were Ivars Muzis, Zak Greenawalt, Trevor Thomas, Jay Taylor, David Kvapil and Alex Lambert…..Taylor and Kvapil are Boise-area skaters who were playing their first Suns games…..Scoring twice for the Sting was Tyler McGregor, the former Holy Cross (Worcester, Mass.) forward who figured prominently in perhaps the biggest upset in college hockey history eight years ago in 2006. McGregor, 30, from Ajax, Ontario, Canada, played right wing in 143 Holy Cross games from 2002-06 and finished his college career with 70 goals and 67 assists for 137 points, putting him second in games played at Holy Cross. His sudden-death overtime goal in the NCAA West Regional game between 15th-seed Holy Cross and No. 2-seed Minnesota Golden Gophers March 24, 2006 at Grand Forks, N.D. gave the Crusaders a 4-3 win over a Minnesota squad that included 2014 Olympic hat trick goal scorer Phil Kessel of Team USA. The Golden Gophers had won the WCHA regular-season title and were looking hard as the school’s third NCAA national title in five years. But Holy Cross’ star senior forward McGregor ruined that dream and gave hope to small schools all across the country. After his senior year, McGregor was named the Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year. He led the Crusaders in goals (26) and points (54). He scored 13 power-play goals that season and was named to the USCHO.com All-America third team and also received the USCHO.com Sportsmanship Award with his 4 penalty minutes that season. The 5-10, 190-pound forward went on to play 62 games for the CHL Memphis Riverkings in 2006-07 with 8 goals, and another 6 goals in the CHL playoffs…..Michigan’s hat trick scorer tonight was Paul Scalici, 29, from Bingham Farms, Mich. He skated for Bentley College from 2004-08 and later was a top scorer for the Toledo Ice Diggers.
suns 9, STING 2
SATURday, february 15
|Sun Valley Suns
FIRST PERIOD—(1) SV, Spencer Brendel 9 (Mike Curry), 9:40. (2) SV, Derek Grimes 9 (Bryan O’Connell), 10:40. (3) SV, Grimes 10 (Doug Yeates), 13:21, power play goal. (4) SV, Yeates 3 (O’Connell, Grimes), 14:34.
SECOND PERIOD—(5) SV, Brendel 10 (Curry, Jay Taylor), 7:10. (6) Michigan, Ryan Rossnau (John Hay), 13:52. (7) SV, O’Connell 10 (Ivars Muzis, Yeates), 14:50.
THIRD PERIOD—(8) SV, O’Connell 11 (Yeates, Taylor), 5:02. (9) Michigan, Paul Scalici (Rossnau), 6:51. (10) SV, O’Connell 12 (unassisted), 13:09, hat trick goal. (11) SV, Brendel 11 (Ryan Enrico, Curry), 16:34, hat trick goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Michigan 15-12-15 for 42; Sun Valley 11-19-13 for 43.
GOALIES—Michigan, Steve Gibson (34 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (40 saves, 6-8-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Dave Patrie (referee), Chris Benson and Bobby Noyes (linesmen).
HITS—Michigan 6-13-6 for 25; Sun Valley 10-11-5 for 26.
FACEOFFS WON—Michigan 14-12-9 for 35; Sun Valley 7-14-7 for 28.
TURNOVERS—Michigan 10-6-10 for 26; Sun Valley 5-6-7 for 18 (Kurt Wenzell stats).
CRASH BALLOU’S TOP STARS—No. 1—Bryan O’Connell (SV, 3 goals, 2 assists). No. 2—Spencer Brendel (SV, 3 goals). No. 3—Derek Grimes (SV, 2 goals, 1 assist).
NOTES—Leading the weekend scoring with 6 points apiece were Spencer Brendel (4 goals, 2 assists) and Bryan O’Connell (3 goals, 3 assists)……O’Connell, who had four 3-goal hat tricks last winter before mid-January, recorded his first hat trick in the last 24 games tonight. The fourth-year Suns wing from Massachusetts now has 15 hat tricks in his 61 Suns games. His third goal in this game for an 8-2 Suns lead came after O’Connell stole the puck not far from the Sting net and put two fakes on Sting goalie Steve Gibson of Boise. He tucked the puck home and gave a little fist pump. O’Connell, who has won three straight Suns scoring titles, now leads the team with 12 goals and 20 points in 14 games…..Suns forward lines were Ryan Enrico-Mike Curry-Spencer Brendel, Doug Yeates-Derek Grimes-Bryan O’Connell, Max Kwok-David Dredge-Sinjin Thomas. Defensemen were Ivars Muzis, Zak Greenawalt, Trevor Thomas, Jay Taylor and David Kvapil…..Back-up Suns goalie was Bobby Farrelly….This weekend’s benefit was Camp Rainbow Gold…..Michigan’s main two forward lines were John Hay-Ryan Rossnau-Paul Scalici and Tyler McGregor-Don DeLabbio-Chris DeLabbio. Defensemen included Jay Duquesne and Jeff Mikesch…..The visiting team was sponsored by Narens Sales……Mikesch, 38, played 154 games for Michigan Tech from 1993-97 with 41 goals and 36 assists. “Michigan had about seven guys with good resumes,” Suns coach John Burke said…..Another star, probably the fastest player on the ice, was 32-year-old John May from Livonia, Mich. Hay led the Sting with 3 goals and 2 assists for the weekend.. The left shot played 69 games with 20 goals and 47 points for Wayne State University from 2003-06. He has also done four stints with the ECHL Toledo Walleyes from 2009-2014 including a couple of games this year. May told Suns coach Burke that he was familiar with and impressed by former Suns player and Sun Valley Junior Hockey product Cody Lampl, who played 64 games with Toledo last season and earned his own Cody Lampl bobblehead night for Toledo this past November. Lampl is currently playing defense for the AHL St. John’s IceCaps, having played 29 games with the Atlantic Conference third-place IceCaps (28-19-1-2) this winter…..Anchoring the Michigan squad in its first visit to Sun Valley since 2005 were 52-year-old Chris DeLabbio of Detroit and his older brother Don DeLabbio, 55, of Livonia, Mich. Don played for Lake Superior State from 1976-80 and brother Chris skated for Lake Superior from 1979-83, scoring 36 goals and 80 points in 121 games. Chris went on to play in the International Hockey League for Flint and Saginaw from 1983-88……Jimmy Dales, who skated for the Suns in 1982, brought his first Michigan Jets team to Sun Valley in 1988 and Michigan returned every year through 2002. Chris DeLabbio came with Dales in the team’s second year, 1989, and estimated that he has made 20 visits with Michigan senior hockey teams to Sun Valley. The Suns beat DeLabbio’s Midwest All-Star team 4-3 and 6-0 in 2004. The last time the Jets came was in 2005, and the Friday night game was canceled by a power outage. On Saturday, the Suns won 8-2. So, counting all Michigan visits including this weekend, the Suns lead the 18-season rivalry 22-8-4…..Dales continues to operate his Dales Graphics Systems business located in Michigan and Arizona….Don DeLabbio’s son Dante DeLabbio from Grand Rapids, Mich. played for the Sting this weekend. He has played collegiately on defense for Grand Valley State University…….Chris DeLabbio was the leading scorer of the Michigan Sting 50-and-over team that won its CARHA Hockey World Cup tournament in Canada in April 2012. Last April, DeLabbio was a member of the Michigan Sting squad that played in the USA Hockey Adult National tournament, competing in the same division as the Sun Valley Old Timers. The Sting beat Sun Valley 3-2 in an overtime shootout in a preliminary game, but the Setting Suns went on to win the Men’s Over-50 Tier 1 national title with 2-0 and 8-1 in the playoffs…..Sun Valley will send another 50-and-over team to the 2014 USA Hockey Nationals scheduled for April 10-13 at Tampa, Fla.