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For the week of January 9 - 15, 2002


Suns (8-0) stay hot, sweep Winter Games

Richtone Painting arrives Friday

They had a few defensive lapses, but the Sun Valley Suns were definitely the class of the field in last weekend’s Utah Winter Games Senior Men’s checking hockey tournament.

Sun Valley won all four of its games and captured the championship with exciting 1-0 and 4-3 victories over Utah’s Bud Ice sextet, a team that featured college hockey players from the Beehive State.

"Overall we played very well," said Suns wing/assistant coach Chas Riopel.

The Suns (8-0) stayed hot, extending their two-season winning streak to 15 games. The Suns haven’t lost in 16 games dating back to an 8-7 loss to Jackson Hole Moose Feb. 24.

Leading the way for Sun Valley, which traveled to Utah with a sizable squad of 16 players for the three-day tournament, was the forward line of Vilnis Nikolaisons, Jamie Ellison and Luke Smith.

Nikolaisons (4 goals, 4 assists for 8 tourney points) netted the game-winning goal in the third period Saturday for the 1-0 win over Bud Ice. Goalie James Moskos made 27 saves to improve his record to 3-0.

Ellison (3-4 for 7 points) pumped in a pair of first-period goals helping stake the Suns to an early 5-0 lead in a 6-4 victory over Korth’s Rebels Saturday. Forward John McGuone (2-1 for 3) also scored a pair of important goals in the victory.

Smith (3-2 for 5 points) got the Suns off the mark by scoring their first goal Friday night in a come-from-behind 8-3 triumph over Cottonwood Spa. The Suns tallied seven of the final eight goals—getting goals from seven different players.

In all, the line of Nikolaisons, Ellison and Smith accounted for 20 of 45 points as Sun Valley won its second consecutive Utah Winter Games championship and sixth in the last eight years.

But, after early goals by Smith and Ellison, the eventual winning goals in Sunday’s 4-3 triumph over Bud Ice came from the Suns grinders—John Stevens netting the final two scores on passes from Chas Riopel to hold off Bud Ice.

The Suns out-shot Bud Ice 44-25 in the championship as goalie Matt Gershater (5-0) was called on to make 22 saves.

Indeed the Idaho sextet dominated throughout the weekend—outscoring four opponents 19-10, outshooting them 177-91 and out-pointing its foes 45-25 on the score-sheet.

Other tourney scorers were Stevens (3-1 for 4), Ivars Muzis and Riopel (0-3 for 3), Jon Bender (1-2 for 3), Tim Tracy (1-2 for 3), Bryan Wiskow (0-2 for 2), Paul Baranzelli (1-1 for 2), Chris Benson (1-0 for 1) and Scott Carmack (0-1 for 1).

Check for line scores and the season scoring summary in this week’s Express Web site.

It was Smith who scored the game-winning shoot-out goal Dec. 29 as the Suns swept the reigning National Senior Open champion Seattle Indians with a 7-6 overtime shoot-out win.

Sun Valley rallied from 2-0 deficits in each game to sweep Seattle 7-5 and 7-6.

The Suns had been winless in their last 10 overtime games before Smith, the final shooter, tallied the third Sun Valley goal of the shootout. Other successful scorers were Joe Lawson and Ben Stauffer.

Gershater made 45 saves.

Next, the Suns entertain Richtone Painting from Minneapolis Jan. 11-12 on resort ice. Opening face-offs are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.