The Sun Valley Suns (2-2) will have their hands full this weekend with the visiting Jackson Hole (Wyo.) Moose.
Game times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 7-8 at Sun Valley Skating Center. Saturday's game will benefit Hailey Ice Rink, with all gate proceeds going to the project.
Since the Moose sextet was formed in 1997, Jackson Hole has always been strong on defense and in the goal, and opportunistic with its quick and normally good-sized forwards.
"Jackson Hole will be strong as always," said Suns coach Chris Benson. "We'll have to play disciplined hockey and keep away from their two-on-one and odd-man rushes.
"We hope to fill the barn for the Moose."
The Moose now lead 22-9-1 in the seven-year series. They've won 22 of the last 28 games between the two teams after the Suns opened the series in 1997-98 with a 3-0-1 record. Last year the teams played a record eight times—Jackson winning seven.
In games played at Sun Valley, Jackson Hole leads 9-7, while the Moose boast a lopsided 13-2-1 advantage at Snow King Center and have won six straight at home since a 5-4 setback to the Suns in 2002.
Moose assistant coach Dave Pfeifer said, "It's always tough coming to Sun Valley. But we will bring our 'A' team. We're excited about the series."
Jackson Hole will bring its usual top goalie Mark Morningstar plus two other goalkeepers. "We're smaller than normal this year," Pfeifer said.
Close games are the exception when the Moose and Suns clash. Only six match-ups have been settled by one goal and four by two goals.
The Moose (7-3) split a pair of New Year's weekend home games with the visiting Weyburn Devils from Saskatchewan—winning 4-3 Friday and dropping a 10-3 decision Saturday. The Devils outshot the Moose in their Saturday win.
In November, the Moose opened with a 6-3, 7-1 home sweep over McCall Mountaineers, but McCall had its full roster at hand during its 6-1 and 8-4 home manhandling of Jackson Nov. 19-20. Since, the Moose have won three of four.
For the Moose, the Suns series will be a suitable tune-up for the Rocky Mountain Hockey Festival Jan. 14-15 at Snow King Center in Jackson featuring the Moose, New York St. Nicks, North Carolina Generals and Chicago Chargers.