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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.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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For the week of April 3 - 9 , 2002

  Sports

The 2001-02 Suns pose as a team, after breaking the franchise record for single-season wins last weekend. Front, from left, goalie James Moskos, John Stevens, Chas Riopel, Tom Forti, goalie Matt Gershater and Jamie Ellison. Back, from left, coach John Ellison, Scott Winkler, Joe Lawson, Scott Carmack, captain Chris Benson, Jon Bender, Luke Smith, Kit Hughes, Ben Stauffer, Vilnis Nikolaisons, Paul Baranzelli and Kris Webster. Express photo by Willy Cook

Suns make their case as best-ever team

26-2 record, looking at 200-plus goals


Itís tough to compare different teams over different generations, especially when a hockey franchise has lasted 27 years like the Sun Valley Suns.

But this yearís Suns squad (26-2) has made a solid case for being judged the best-ever Sun Valley hockey team since the program began in 1975.

The Suns put a big exclamation mark on the all-time boast with a 9-4 and 5-3 sweep of the visiting St. Paul (Minn.) Turtles last weekend at Sun Valley Skating Center.

Fridayís 9-4 win was the 25th of the season, breaking the previous record of 24 victories set in 1980. Fittingly, the Suns captain and longest-serving player, Chris Benson, scored a three-goal "hat trick," Friday.

It was Bensonís 14th career hat trick, a franchise record.

The Suns exploded for a 5-0 lead in the first six minutes and never looked back, as the line of Benson, center Tom Forti (4 assists Friday) and John Miller (3 assists) tallied 11 of the teamís 23 points.

Benson, a 12th-year wing from Cottage Grove, Minn. who became only the fourth 300-point player in Suns history with his four-point night Friday, said "It was nice to hit the back of the net a few times."

It was even nicer Saturday night when Benson hit the back of the net just once.

The Suns squandered a 3-1 lead and were staring at their fourth overtime game of the season when rookie center Forti, from Hibbing, Minn., made a brilliant rush into the Turtles zone with 98 seconds remaining in the 3-3 tie game.

Forti, like Benson a collegiate player at the University of St. Thomas, got off a shot and then chased down the puck along the side boards. He looked for a pass and spotted Benson skating into an open spot in the Turtles slot.

Whipping a perfect pass, Forti connected with Benson and Fester fired a high wrist shot from close range for the game-winning goal. Scott Winkler added an empty-net goal for the 5-3 final score.

Benson said this yearís team is certainly the best since heís been playing in Sun Valley.

He said, "Itís probably the best depth-wiseówith two good goalies, five or six solid defensemen and all those young legs who had good college careers. A few games into the season we pulled together and kicked into gear."

The Suns reeled off a 15-game winning streak to start the 2001-02 seasonómaking it a record 22 straight wins over two seasonsóand enjoyed another eight-game win streak.

With two games to play this coming weekend, the Suns have 197 goals in 28 games and will certainly break the single-season goal scoring record of 199 established in 32 games of the 1983 season at Sun Valley.

 

Fan appreciation night

The Suns wrap up their 2001-02 campaign with a two-game set against the visiting Connecticut Camels Friday and Saturday, April 5-6 at 7 p.m. at Sun Valley Skating Center.

Saturdayís game is "Fan Appreciation Night," featuring $2 ticket prices and other specials including discount prices on Suns merchandise.

 


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.