Itd be nice to report that the Sun Valley Suns
mens hockey team huffed and puffed and blew the Jackson Hole Moose down during last
weekends season-opening games.
Mostly, the out-of-shape Suns huffed and puffedand got blown away
by the more seasoned Moose by scores of 6-2 and 10-7 at Snow King Center in Jackson Hole,
"We were horribly out-of-shape," said Suns wing Chas Riopel.
"Officially, weve had only six practice skates so far, but only one really good
one. We have some new guys. As we started getting used to playing together, I think we
were much better."
Indeed, the Suns outscored the Moose 4-1 in the third periods.
But the Moose (9-1), their season in full flush with hopes of competing
in the Senior Elite Nationals March 30 at Fond du Lac, Wisc., jolted the understaffed Suns
(0-2) with a well-rounded scoring attack.
"We got outplayed in all areas," said Riopel.
Seventeen different Moose skaters including six former Suns amassed
points in the two games. Leading the way was ex-Suns winger Kevin Lynch (3 goals and 6
points), who scored 37 goals and 82 points in his three winters on Sun Valley ice.
Lynch scored two goals in Fridays win and former Sun Mark
Morningstar had a hat trick Saturday.
The Suns star, as hes been for a full decade, was goaltender Tony
Benson. He stopped 52 of 58 Moose shots in Fridays 6-2 loss. Riopel said, "Our
only real high point was the play of Tony Benson in goal."
Another standout was forward Billy Tryder (6 points), with four goals
including a hat trick Saturday. Ben Allen and Kris Webster added 4 points apiece, John
Stevens and Riopel 3 points each for the weekend.
Complicating what the Suns knew was going to be an uphill fight was the
loss of 1998-99 leading scorer Vilnis Nikolaisons (concussion) early in Fridays
contest. It altered the balance of power considerably.
Riopel said, "We went from skating three forward lines with five
defensemen, to two lines with two extra forwards, and four defensemen.
"Overall, if we had a few more bodies, had skated a little more
and could have scored on the power play, we could have won. Saturday nights game was
better. We played as a team and skated much better."
Unbeaten on home ice and winners of nine straight, the Moose entertain
Minneapolis Fury Motors Dec. 17-18 at Snow King Center.
The Suns are idle until they host the Moose for a big Millennium
weekend series Friday, Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 1 at 7 p.m. at Sun Valley
They are the first home games of the Suns 26-game regular-season
schedule for 1999-2000. This is Sun Valleys 25th seasonand the Suns
arent planning to compete at nationals in 2000.
From Jan. 14 through March 25, the Suns plan to play home games each
weekend except Jan. 28-29 and Feb. 4-5.