Sun Valley Suns left wing Ryan Enrico was on fire Friday with four goals including a natural hat trick in the Suns' 7-5 comeback hockey triumph over the McCall Manchester Mountaineers in the 2004-05 home debut at Sun Valley Skating Center.
"I had a lot of sweet looks and just pulled the trigger," said Enrico, 24, the lightning-quick second-year winger from Hoboken, N.J. and New England College of New Hampshire who was the Suns' second-leading scorer behind Vilnis Nikolaisons in 2004.
The final three Enrico goals—all assisted by center Ryan McDonald (4 assists)—came after the Suns fell behind the Mountaineers 5-3 early in the second period. With goalie Ryan Thomson (28 saves) having another solid game, the Suns rode Enrico's sharpshooting to their first home win.
It was the first time since high school that Enrico had a hat trick. In fact, the Suns now have two hat tricks in four games—one more hat trick than they had in 24 games last winter.
Enrico said, "We could have folded, but we regrouped to get two goals late in the second then we came back out and finished it out. Ryan McDonald picked some guys and sacrificed his body to get passes to me."
Suns coach Chris Benson said, "Rico was on fire and got some good passes from Ryan McDonald. We had some young legs and stepped up the pace a little and wore them out at the end. We showed good composure and poured it on once we got the lead."
The Suns (2-2) outshot the Mountaineers (4-4) 34-23 in the final two periods, and 48-33 for the entire game played on New Year's Eve. "It's always good to win your first home game of the season," said Enrico.
But the Mountaineers, filled with former Idaho Steelhead minor league hockey players, are too good a team to get swept. Even though McCall brought only a handful of the players who helped nail down April's USA Hockey National 30-and-over championship in Brandon, Fla., McCall won 4-2 Saturday to earn a weekend split.
Three of the four McCall goals were scored by local products who filled in for the shorthanded Mountaineers holiday squad. Justin Taylor scored a pair, and Kellen Chatterton tallied the eventual game winner.
"We were a little flat from the get-go," said coach Benson about Saturday's effort. "We had a couple of defensive breakdowns on the first two goals. But their goalie (Mark Liebich) played well, and McCall's defense did a good job keeping us off rebounds."
Former Air Force Academy goalie Liebich was outstanding Saturday with 42 saves on 44 shots. Friday, Liebich had 42 saves but couldn't stop Enrico.
The McCall star was 34-year-old Cal Ingraham, the leading scorer for the 1993 NCAA Division 1 champion Maine Black Bears (42-1-2) who went on to have a fine career with the WCHL Idaho Steelheads based in Boise. In four seasons from 1998-2002 the right shot scored 175 Steelie goals in 274 games, and had 381 points.
Ingraham scored three goals on his first three shots Friday night before the Suns defense clamped down. Then, the Suns were a little shaky on two McCall power play goals that gave the visitors a 5-3 lead in Friday's game.
"We had bad coverages on their power plays," said Benson of the two goals, scored in a 33-second span.
Down 5-3 and in danger of digging a deeper hole, the Suns got aggressive. Jamie Ellison's forward line forechecked away and had several good chances with six minutes left in the second, then goalie Thomson made a quiet save that helped turned the tide.
Thomson made a little kick save that completely stopped a McCall three-on-two. The puck slid back out to defenseman Kris Webster, who skated it into the Mountaineers zone and absorbed a big hit. Thanks to Webster's effort, the puck stayed in the zone and Ivars Muzis scored, 5-4.
McDonald, the speedy and observant Hailey skater who went to school at Avon Old Farms and played juniors in Lowell, Mass. last winter, then absorbed his own blueline hit and got the puck ahead to Enrico, who scored making the score 5-5 after two periods.
Enrico beat Liebich with a low, hard wrist shot for his hat trick five minutes into the third period. Then, with eight minutes left, Enrico went high over the shoulder of rangy McCall goalie Liebich for the insurance goal. It clanged off the crossbar.
"I thought it was high and wide," said Enrico, glad it wasn't.
Benson said, "We hadn't played a game in a month. For the most part everybody positionally played well—and everybody had a great jump Friday night. There were decent crowds, considering weather and whatever."
Coach Benson said Saturday night's game raised about $2,100 for Camp Rainbow Gold. All gate proceeds went to the local charity. About 250 fans saw Friday night's game, and close to 400 came out Saturday.
Suns 7, Mountaineers 5
McCall Mountaineers 3 2 0 5
Sun Valley Suns 2 3 2 7
FIRST PERIOD—(1) McCall, Cal Ingraham (Warren Moore, Rick Bourbonnais), 1:45. (2) SV, Vilnis Nikolaisons 1 (Jamie Ellison, Scott Winkler), 3:04. (3) SV, Ryan Enrico 2 (Ivars Muzis, Ryan McDonald), 3:12. (4) McCall, Cal Ingraham (Travis Johnson), 9:25. (5) McCall, Cal Ingraham (Bourbonnais, Bobby Ingraham), 13:45, hat trick goal.
SECOND PERIOD—(6) SV, Chris Warrington 2 (Ellison), 1:20, shorthanded goal. (7) McCall, Brett Gallagher (T.J. Stanton, Moore), 7:01, power play goal. (8) McCall, Stanton (Bobby Ingraham), 7:34, power play goal. (9) SV, Muzis 1 (Joey Sides, Kris Webster), 16:27. (10) SV, Enrico 3 (McDonald, John Miller), 18:08.
THIRD PERIOD—(11) SV, Enrico 4 (McDonald), 5:33, hat trick goal. (12) SV, Enrico 5 (McDonald), 11:23, natural hat trick goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—For McCall Manchester Mountaineers 10-11-12 for 33; for Sun Valley 14-19-15 for 48.
GOALIES— McCall, Mark Liebich (41 saves); SV, Ryan Thomson (28 saves, 2-1-0 season record);
OFFICIALS—Referee, Bobby Noyes; linesmen, Curtis Martin and John Heinrich.
NOTES—Suns forward lines were Vilnis Nikolaisons-Jamie Ellison-Scott Winkler, Ryan Enrico-Ryan McDonald-John Miller, Frank Salvoni-John Stevens-Joey Sides/Caleb Baukol. Skating as a fourth unit were Joey Sides-Blake Jenson-Bryan Winkler. Coach Chris Benson rotated 5 defensemen—Ivars Muzis and Chris Warrington, Kris Webster-Jake Glotfelty, and Josh Jacobson....Sun Valley's fourth line of Baukol-Jenson-Bryan Winkler had an outstanding shift with 6 minutes left in the game, cutting 40 seconds off the clock with fierce forechecking and enabling the top lines to get a needed break before the all-important homestretch....Assistant captain Chris Warrington, the quiet and very effective defenseman from Brown University, had 1 of 4 Suns shorthanded goals last season—and he has both Suns shorthanded goals to date....Wing Joey Sides, who grew up in Hailey, made a great pass to Vilnis Nikolaisons on a two-on-one with the score tied 5-5 early in the third period, and Nikolaisons was shocked when he missed the open net.....McCall's top line featured Cal Ingraham-Brett Gallagher-Rick Bourbonnais. They accounted for 6 of McCall's 13 points tonight....After Cal Ingraham scored 3 first-period goals on his first three shots, the Suns did a good job keeping the former University of Maine star in check. John Stevens was assigned to shadow Ingraham and did a good job getting under his skin. But with 20 seconds left in the game Stevens got tangled up with Ingraham and twisted his leg the wrong way. Suns captain Stevens strained his MCL and sat out Saturday night's game....Suns goalie Ryan Thomson got a workout in the final 30 seconds as McCall pulled goalie Liebich for an extra attacker—but Thomson was equal to the task. He blanked the Mountaineers for the final 32 minutes after the second-period power play goals.....McCall was 2-7 on the power play, Sun Valley 0-1. Penalty minutes were SV 18, McCall 8.
Mountaineers 4, Suns 2
McCall Mountaineers 2 0 2 4
Sun Valley Suns 0 1 1 2
FIRST PERIOD—(1) McCall, Rick Bourbonnais (Brett Gallagher, Cal Ingraham), 8:22. (2) McCall, Justin Taylor (Cal Ingraham, Gallagher), 15:16.
SECOND PERIOD—(3) SV, Scott Winkler 2 (Jamie Ellison, Vilnis Nikolaisons), 6:20.
THIRD PERIOD—(4) McCall, Kellen Chatterton (Troy Edwards), 3:04. (5) SV, Kris Webster 2 (Chris Warrington, Nikolaisons), 8:52, power play goal. (6) McCall, Justin Taylor (unassisted), 19:58, empty net goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—For McCall Manchester Mountaineers 16-8-13 for 37; for Sun Valley 16-15-13 for 44.
GOALIES— McCall, Mark Liebich (42 saves); SV, Ryan Thomson (33 saves, 2-2-0 season record);
OFFICIALS—Referee, John Olson; linesmen, Bobby Noyes and Eric Wingard.
NOTES—Ryan Enrico (4-0 for 4) and Ryan McDonald (0-4) led the Suns in weekend scoring. Cal Ingraham (3-2 for 5) paced the Mountaineers.....Suns season point leaders in four games are Jamie Ellison (2-5 for 7), Ryan Enrico (5-2 for 7) and Scott Winkler (2-4 for 6)....The teams finished their season series in a dead heat, tied 2-2 in games. The Suns outscored McCall 19-16 for the four games and outpointed them on the scoresheet 49-40....The two-year, 12-game Suns-McCall rivalry now stands in McCall's favor 7-5. The Mountaineers have outscored the Suns 68-57. In games played at McCall, the teams are tied 3-3, while McCall leads 4-2 in games played at Sun Valley.....Kris Webster (72-118 for 190) is creeping up on the 200-point mark for his 11-year Suns career. Only three other Suns defenseman—Glenn Hunter (362), John Finnegan (332) and Dale Johnson (205), have gone over 200 points.... Defending USA Hockey National 30-and-over champion McCall came shorthanded to Sun Valley, traveling without players like John Ursillo, Derek Paget, Wes Dorey and Lee Svangstu who accounted for 8 of the 18 Mountaineers points during the Dec. 3-4 weekend split between the two teams in McCall. Filling in for McCall were local junior products Justin Taylor, Kellen Chatterton, Trevor Thomas and Bobby Sloper—and Taylor and Chatterton scored 3 of the 4 goals tonight....Suns goalie Ryan Thomson kept his team in the game by holding McCall scoreless in the second period. Thomson made 3 fine saves—shooting out his leg to stop Rob Dumas' bid from the point, stopping D.W. Cook's rebound and taking one off the mask, from Brett Gallagher....Wing Paul Baranzelli is expected back for the Moose series, and coach Benson intends to match him up with left wing Ryan Enrico and center Ryan McDonald, moving John Miller to the third line....McCall was 0-3 on the power play (2-10 weekend), Sun Valley 1-6 (1-7 weekend). Penalty minutes were SV 12, McCall 18....McCall's Cal Ingraham, 34, was the leading scorer (46 goals) with the 1993 NCAA Division 1 champion Maine Black Bears (42-1-2) that rallied past Lake Superior State 5-4 in the title game. At Maine he played on a great line with Hobie Baker winner Paul Kariya and center Jim Montgomery. Ingraham, at 5-5, 160 pounds, went on to have a fine career with the WCHL Idaho Steelheads. In four seasons from 1998-2002 the right shot scored 175 goals in 274 games, and had 381 points. His #22 jersey is retired at Bank of America Centre in Boise.