With over two weeks off since their last series, the Sun Valley Senior A Elite men’s hockey team will get back on the ice this weekend (Jan. 7-8) as the Suns welcome the Santa Rosa Growlers of California to the Campion Ice House in Hailey on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m.
This weekend’s series will benefit Blaine County Education Foundation.
This will be the first matchup between the two clubs. While the Suns (4-2) are well into their season, the Growlers have played only one game thus far against serious competition, a 4-3 win over the Reno Ice Raiders back on Oct. 30. Despite the short record, Santa Rosa is not to be overlooked: The Growlers finished the 2020-21 season with a 12-0-1 record.
Suns head coach Ryan Enrico said the Growlers present an exciting challenge.
“It seems like [the Growlers] are a lot like us,” Enrico said. “They skate together regularly and practice quite a bit. This should be interesting because they’re a team with chemistry as opposed to a team that only plays together when games are played.”
The layover between games gave the Suns time to catch their breath and heal from some physical matchups. Max Tardy (13 points), Spencer Brendel (7 points) and Mike Curry (7 points) will lead the Suns.
“It was nice having some extra time off,” Enrico said. “We have some guys who have healed up or a lot further along, which is always nice. Our guys are progressing nicely.”
So far this season, the Suns have had impressive play at the net from both their goalies, Bobby Bowden (2-2) and Matt Cooper (2-0). Bowden leads the team with 125 saves and Cooper has 60.
This weekend’s games are not the only time the Suns and Growlers faceoff this year. The Suns wrap up their season in Santa Rosa against the Growlers at the iconic Redwood Empire Ice Arena, also known as Snoopy’s Home Ice. The arena was owned and built by Peanuts cartoonist/creator Charles M. Schulz in 1969. That matchup is scheduled for March 11-12.
Suns, Moose game canceled
The rematch of the Sun Valley Suns and the Jackson Hole Moose, which was scheduled for a Dec. 31-Jan. 1 series in Jackson Hole was canceled and will not be rescheduled because of scheduling conflicts.
The cancelation was originally reported to be COVID-19 related, but Suns General Manager John “Cub” Burke said he lobbied to cancel the rematch due to the physicality of the previous meeting between the Suns and Moose.
Burke said there could be a recipe for an unhealthy situation. His decision was made solely to avoid retribution between the two teams.
“Emotions were still bubbling, therefore I felt that cooler heads needed to prevail,” Burke said. “There was a potential for more people getting injured, and that couldn’t be rationalized.”
During the Dec. 18 meeting in which the Suns won, 6-3, tensions boiled as forward and leading scorer Nick Curry was checked hard into the net and collided with Jackson Hole goalie Robbie Leslie. Curry sustained an upper-body injury and left the game. Moments later, both Sun Valley’s Chad O’Brien and Jackson Hole’s Brian Dolby got into an in-game fight, which resulted in ejections and suspensions. ￼