Justin Taylor (right) and Eli Gillian

Sun Valley Suns assistant captain Justin Taylor (right) and Eli Gillian of Bozeman get up close and personal in a crowd-pleasing scrap at Hailey’s Campion Ice House. Gillian (interference minor) went hard into Suns goalie Bobby Bowden, causing Bowden to tumble during a Stingers attack. Taylor (instigating) went after Gillian to remind him that it wasn’t kosher to take down the Suns goalie. Both were ejected.

     Third-year Sun Valley Suns forward Max Tardy wasted no time notching his third career Suns hat trick during Friday’s 2019-20 season hockey opener against Bozeman (Mt.) Stingers at Campion Ice House.

     The game wasn’t 10 minutes old before the University of Minnesota-Duluth alum scored his third goal. And that wasn’t all. All of Tardy’s considerable skating moves, dekes, fakes and attacks on the net seemed to turn golden.

     By the time the 9-2 Suns victory was in the books, the 29-year-old Duluth native had obliterated the Suns single-game scoring record finishing with seven goals, two on the power play, plus an assist.

     “Magic Max” is how Suns coach John Burke described Tardy’s effort, which shattered the Suns record of five goals.

     Suns 2016-17 leading scorer Tardy added two more goals including a shorthanded tally during Saturday’s 9-2 Suns triumph that completed the Black Diamond Hockey League weekend sweep.

     His forward line with Nick Curry (3 goals, 5 assists) and Spencer Brendel (2 goals, 4 assists) piled up 25 of the 44 Suns weekend points, and defenseman Mike Curry added five points to the dominance.

     Suns goalie Bobby Bowden did the rest, stopping 38 of 40 Bozeman shots on Friday night and making 32 saves on 34 Stinger shots on Saturday.

     The “George Jacket” nod went to eighth-year Suns wing Brendel. Nick Curry recorded his first hat trick Saturday, the final two goals coming in the third period—one on a nifty breakaway pass from Brendel.

     For the first time because of the lateness of the holiday, the Suns staged a Thanksgiving weekend season opener and gobbled up the spectators.

     The weekend gate was 1,141 spectators, more than double the 559 drawn for last season’s season debut with Bozeman. Friday’s packed house numbered 663 who watched Tardy do his scoring magic. Sawtooth Pony Club was the benefit.

     On Saturday night, the Suns team signed a jersey for a 13-year-old Carey boy who has successfully fought brain cancer for the last two years.

     See today’s Express web site for the Suns-Stingers game summary and weekend notes.


Texas Titans arrive Friday

     The Suns (2-0, 2-0 BDHL) face a tough test when the Texas Titans invade Campion ice for two games on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7. Opening faceoffs are 7 p.m. Benefit is Girls on the Run.

     Suns coach Burke said the Dallas-based Titans should be considered the pre-season BDHL favorite in only their first year in the league. Formed in 2018, the Titans are a Senior A level, semi-pro team carrying a roster loaded with ex-college and minor leaguers.

     Titans coach Dave Cochran said, “The Titans have started off 6-0, with series sweeps against Norcal Ice Raiders, Fort Worth Barracuda and Breckenridge (Co.) Vipers.

     “We have a solid mix of veterans and younger guys. We mix seasoned professionals with solid skill players. It’s a great team effort every night, with a next-man-up attitude.”

     The Titans are expected to bring 20 players including 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders.

     Cochran said, “We are a deep team and run four lines and six “D” straight through. Any mountain games (at elevation) are a challenge. We feel our depth and skill level will make up for the disadvantage of training near sea level.”

     Two recent signings by the Titans show their top talent.

     Two weeks ago, the Titans signed 26-year-old left-shot Evan Janssen from Green Bay, Wisc. Janssen was a senior wing on the University of Denver Pioneers team (33-7-4) that beat Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 for the 2017 NCAA Division 1 hockey title, in Chicago.

     Janssen (14 goals, 47 points in 146 DU games) helped coach Jim Montgomery win Denver’s eighth NCAA national title. Last season, Janssen played 51 games with 11 goals for Guildford Flames of the British Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL).

     More recently, the Titans signed Ryan MacMurchy, 36, from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. MacMurchy, a 6-2, 210-pound forward, played 164 games with 44 goals for the University of Wisconsin from 2002-06 and spent the last seven seasons competing in Germany and Switzerland.

     A ninth-round NHL draft pick for St. Louis Blues in 2002, MacMurchy should have a few tales to tell with Suns veteran forward Marty Flichel, 43, also from Saskatchewan.

     Cochran said, “We will be starting Jimmy Smith in Game No. 1. He is a smaller goalie, very athletic and aggressive. Jimmy is off to a 5-0 start with a 2.7 GAA and 91.23% save percentage.

     “Jake Menzel from Johnson and Wales University (NCAA Div. 3) will take the crease Saturday. Jake is a big body with strong fundamentals. They bring two different styles. Both are proven winners.”

Email the writer: sports@mtexpress.com

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