Sun Valley high school de-fensemen, from left, Kyle Fur-long, Hagan Barsch, Gus Con-rad, Jack Swanson, Alex Schwartz and Justin Miller.
Express photo by Willy Cook
Sun Valley’s season hung in the balance during the final six minutes of Sunday’s semi-final game of the Idaho Amateur Hockey Association (IAHA) State High School championship tournament at Sun Valley Skating Center.
Trailing 2-0 against Boise-Timberline, but with momentum swinging in Sun Valley’s favor, George Everitt of the Suns shot from just inside the blueline and his perfect slapshot found its way into the goal, making the score 2-1.
Sun Valley continued on the attack and kept Boise-Timberline from getting the puck out of its end. A Sun Valley goal seemed imminent, judging by the forechecking.
Freak goals at inopportune times, however, have a way of wrecking momentum. That was the case for Sun Valley when Boise-Timberline found a way for a fast break four minutes later and a goal made by Dakota Binegar.
Down 3-1, the Suns had their backs against the wall. Sun Valley tried to gain its composure, but only one minute later Boise-Timberline scored again on a rebound and went on to prevail 6-1.
Boise-Timberline eventually won the 10-team tournament 5-2 over defending state champion Bishop Kelly of Boise in Sunday’s title game.
Yet the young Suns had accomplished some objectives.
“I’m happy with them, I’m proud of them,” said Sun Valley coach Tim Jeneson.
He added, “We made the Final Four. We weren’t expected to be there (advancing to Sunday’s semi-finals) with only three seniors. We had an opportunity to advance, but we didn’t get it done, which is disappointing.”
Sun Valley started the tournament on a great streak of physical play beating Skyline of Idaho Falls to open pool play on Friday night.
The Suns won easily 4-0. Goals were scored by Riley Sibbach, Jack Seiller and Erik Wilander. Solomon Martinez and George Everitt each had an assist. Goalie Willis Sanchez-duPont had 12 saves.
Next, the Suns took down Eagle-Rocky Mountain by a score of 3-2. Sun Valley played a clean game with only six minutes of penalty time.
“We have some guys who like to play physical,” Jeneson said. “It helps our intimidation factor. As long as they keep it clean and they usually do. Penalties were not a factor all weekend. If you play physical you got to kill penalties and we were able to do that.”
Eagle-Rocky Mountain tested the Suns as the game went back and forth. Sun Valley scored early from Dylan Broman. And after the initial score, each team picked and prodded each other until Eagle-Rocky Mountain tied the game 1-1 in the first period.
Goals by George Everitt and Roger Figge put the game out of reach. Eagle-Rocky Mountain scored once more in garbage time. Sanchez-duPont (24 saves) was once again stellar.
Sun Valley made it three straight wins 4-2 over Centennial-Mountain View. Kyle Furlong scored twice and captain Gus Conrad tallied three assists. Goalie Dehner Figge made 26 saves in the game.
On Saturday evening, the Suns moved on to clash with the other unbeaten team in Pool A, Bishop Kelly. It was “Senior Night,” for the Suns on their home ice. Seniors Sam Ruddell, Riley Sibbach and Gus Conrad were honored during the first intermission.
“It’s just unfortunate that we had to leave the tournament early, (the seniors) are the ones who had the most impact,” Jeneson said. “It’s hard for the three seniors because that was a great tournament. It would have been nice to win it for them.”
Bishop Kelly went up early in the first period and played excellent defense. The Knights didn’t allow the Suns to get anything established. Bishop Kelly ultimately won 2-0. Sanchez-duPont had 29 saves.
After the tournament, Jeneson talked to his team. He said, “I told them to hold their heads up high and take in this moment and learn from it.”
Losing only three seniors this year should bode well for Jeneson and next year’s team.
Other players on the Suns roster were Travis Wilkinson, Justin Miller, Alex Schwartz, Oskar Wilander, Jack Swanson, Hagan Barsch, Sam Johnson, Logan Robideaux, Henry Everitt and Abby Robideaux. Assistant coaches were Steve Morcone and Caleb Baukol. Team managers were Barbara Figge and Sonya Wilander.
Scores from the weekend:
Friday scores: Bishop Kelly 3-1 over Centennial; Boise 4-2 over Bonneville; Sun Valley 4-0 over Skyline; Idaho Falls 9-2 over Salmon; Bishop Kelly 7-5 over Eagle; Boise 4-2 over Borah; Skyline 4-2 over Centennial; Salmon 4-4 tie with Bonneville; Sun Valley 3-2 over Eagle; Borah 5-2 over Idaho Falls.
Saturday scores: Boise 4-2 over Salmon; Bishop Kelly 3-2 over Skyline; Borah 4-1 over Bonneville; Sun Valley 4-2 over Centennial; Boise 4-2 over Idaho Falls; Eagle 2-1 over Skyline; Borah 6-5 over Salmon; Bishop Kelly 2-0 over Sun Valley; Idaho Falls 8-0 over Bonneville; Eagle 5-3 over Centennial;
Sunday scores: Bishop Kelly 3-3 over Borah in shootout (semi-final); Boise 6-1 over Sun Valley (semi-final); Boise 5-2 over Bishop Kelly (championship game).