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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of March 6 - 12, 2002

  Sports

Suns stay perfect in OT

7-6 shootout win over Dallas


Sun Valley Suns goalie James Moskos likes to see a lot of shots to stay sharp.

But he hasn’t been tested much recently including Friday’s game with the Dallas South Stars at Sun Valley Skating Center.

Through three periods and a five-minute sudden death overtime, Moskos saw a grand total of 18 shots.

Meanwhile, his Dallas counterpart Steve Swenson was very busy, often spectacular, stopping 45 of 50 Suns shots including all seven in OT.

So with the teams deadlocked at 5-5 and headed for an overtime shootout, the scenario was—Moskos ice cold, Swenson red hot.

It didn’t help when Moskos gave up a goal on the first Dallas shootout attempt.

But this year’s Suns squad has developed a confidence level that has carried Sun Valley to 21 wins in 22 games. They’ve found a way to win.

Moskos exuded that confidence. He said, after the game, "I was hoping it would go to a shootout because I knew our guys would put it in the net and I knew I could stop them."

That’s what happened.

Scott Winkler and Jamie Ellison made back-to-back shootout goals and Moskos stopped the final four Dallas shooters as Sun Valley stayed perfect in three overtime contests this season with a 7-6 shootout victory.

On Saturday, Suns goalie Matt Gershater logged his second shutout of the season in a 7-0 Suns cakewalk.

Scoring balance was a huge thing for Sun Valley on a weekend when Ellison’s high-scoring first line was disrupted by a groin injury suffered by reliable wing Vilnis Nikolaisons.

Putting 14 goals on the board, Suns had 12 different goal scorers and 18 point-getters for the weekend, nearly everybody on the team. Defenseman Ivars Muzis, with two goals Saturday, was the only Suns player scoring more than one goal.

The Suns, winners of six in a row, would have been the first to say that they should have nailed down Friday’s game much earlier. They dominated in the offensive zone.

Swenson, a former collegiate goalie from Minnesota, was the difference particularly in overtime.

Chris Benson hit the post two minutes into OT then Joe Lawson’s shot on a pass from Chas Riopel ricocheted off Swenson’s arm and dribbled past the same post.

In the last minute Swenson stopped Luke Smith, as Ellison hammered away in the slot, then the Dallas goalie denied Paul Baranzelli twice, once on a wrist shot and the second time on a rebound.

Dallas’ Ryan Hopkins beat Moskos top shelf on the first shootout attempt, then Swenson was solid as a rock in stopping Lawson and Ben Stauffer. Meanwhile, Moskos was just getting warmed up, coming out to cut off the angles and expertly retreating to deny the last four Stars.

Time was running out on the Suns when Winkler got lucky.

His trip up the ice was an adventure that ended successfully. Winkler busted up the ice, skating furiously, then he remembered that he needed to stickhandle and find the puck as well. Winkler was the navigator, but the puck had a life of its own and somehow beat Swenson.

Ellison was next, with big Luke Smith in the hole, but Smith wasn’t needed. Ellison shot early, a dart that landed in the lower right hand corner before Swenson could react. Then Moskos drew the curtain by making the final save of an exciting evening.

Next, the Suns (21-1) entertain the Boston Hockey Club Saturday, March 8-9 at 7 p.m. in the Sun Valley rink.

Boston always plays Sun Valley tough.

The Suns swept the Beantowners 9-8 and 6-4 last March. The 10-season rivalry is deadlocked 9-9-2, but Sun Valley has won three of the last four games.

Most recently, Boston invaded Jackson Hole, Wyo. and split with the host Moose Feb. 15-16. The Moose, who ended February with an 18-5 season record, dominated 14-5 in the opening game but lost to Boston 5-4 in an overtime shootout in the finale.

Check the Express web site for updated season statistics.

 


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.