The enthusiasm was so great for a hockey/skiing trip to Idaho that “we could have easily had 25 to 30 guys coming to play,” said Will Gray, organizer of the Connecticut Bantam Beauties hockey team.
Gray has rounded up 20 players including himself, one coach and two non-players for the trip from New England to Sun Valley. Most arrived Thursday. Gray said, “Hopefully we’ll put on a good show and start the Bantam Beauties legacy of coming to Sun Valley.”
Sun Valley Suns men’s hockey action resumes today, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 12 with the first-time visit of Connecticut Bantam Beauties filled with recent alums of Trinity College in Hartford, Ct.
Opening faceoffs are 7 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 12 at Hailey’s Campion Ice House. There will be no pre-sale of tickets this weekend. Buy them at the door ($10 adults, $5 youth ages 10-18, free for 9-and-under). Benefit is the Sun Valley Soccer Club.
For the first time in the Suns’ program’s 44 years, credit cards will be accepted for payment of admission tickets and the purchase of merchandise, Suns head coach John Burke said Wednesday.
The Suns (7-1) haven’t played since their New Year’s Eve weekend two-game home sweep of arch-rival Jackson Hole (Wyo.) Moose, and they’ll be challenged by a young group of Bantam Beauties.
“Bantams” is the mascot of Trinity College athletic teams competing in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).
It is attributed to an 1899 speech given by a Trinity alum that called schools like Harvard and Yale the big shots of the “collegiate barnyard,” while he described Trinity as a “proud, unfazed rooster, satisfied with himself and his own particular coop.”
Fourteen of the 20 Bantam Beauties players ranging in age from 23 to 31 played for the NCAA Division 3 Trinity College Bantams between the years of 2007 and 2017.
And 11 of the Beauties were members of the 2014-15 Trinity team coached by Matthew Greason that captured the school’s only NCAA Division 3 tournament championship with a 5-2 win over University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in Minneapolis three years ago.
Maine native Greason, a 2003 Trinity alum and former Bantams ice hockey captain, has a 138-50-14 record in his eight Bantams seasons includ-ing three straight 20-win campaigns from 2014-17.
Leaders of the title team, both due in Hailey, are 2011-15 Bantams defenseman Mike Flynn, 25, of Cheshire, Ct. (104 Trinity games, 13 goals/57 assists) and wing Jackson Brewer, 26, of Newton, Mass. (103 games, 38 goals and 84 assists).
Brewer played for four teams in the Southern Professional Hockey League from 2015-17 and notched 41 points in 43 games for Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs two years ago.
Prolific Trinity scorer Sean Orlando, 24, from Ivyland, Pa. is also due. He had 64 goals and 131 points in 114 Trinity Ban-tam games from 2013-17.
Will Gray, 27, Trinity captain in 2014, had 30 points in 93 Bantam games from 2010-14 and was praised by his coach Greason for leadership and character skills in Hartford.
He is a son of Sam Gray, a Suns player who played on the 19-1-2 Suns team of 1976-77.
Sam Gray, now a professional photographer, was also a Trinity College ice hockey captain, graduating in 1979 after his “year off” playing with the Suns. His Trinity teams reached the ECAC Finals in 1978 and 1979. Sam Gray stays involved in alumni matters.
The Beauties roster features:
Goalie: Wes Vesprini, 30 (Trinity 2007-11, 48-27-7 record).
Defensemen from Trinity: Mike DiCenso, 28; Greg Rooney, 27; Mike Flynn; Derek Sandberg, 30, Ben Hjalmarsson, 25; and Drew Tallet, 26. Other defensemen: Ian Tallet, 31, Harvard; and Dawson Luke, 28, Connecticut College.
Forwards from Trinity: Will Gray; Sean Orlando; Jackson Brewer; Elie Vered, 25; Ethan Holdaway, 26; Conor Coveney, 27; and Ben Shellington, 30. Other forwards: Kyle Nickerson, 25, Dartmouth; Matt Di-Censo, 26, George Washington; Pat Curtis, 26, Hamilton College; and Mitch DiCenso, 23, Boston Jr. Bandits.
Coach: Drew Canniff (Worcester Polytechnic Institute).