Two feet of snow and a two-game sweep of the Jackson Hole Moose—what a weekend it was for the Sun Valley Suns and the hockey team's devoted fans after nearly five years of domination by the Moose!
Paul Baranzelli scored a three-goal hat trick and defenseman Ivars Muzis added four assists Friday as the Suns posted their first-ever shutout win over Jackson Hole by a score of 8-0, behind goalie Ryan Thomson (21 saves).
Saturday, Baranzelli's power play goal broke a 1-1 tie in the first period, then Frank Salvoni and Scott Winkler added insurance goals as the Suns breezed 4-1 for their first two-game sweep over Jackson Hole since Jan. 1-2, 1999.
Granted, it wasn't the same Moose team that whipped the Suns in seven of eight meetings last winter, and had won 22 of the last 28 games between the teams. With only two forward lines, the shorthanded Moose played without injured top scorers like Gregg Gripentrog and Joe Casey. They didn't use #1 goalie Mark Morningstar.
It didn't spoil the Suns' fun.
John Stevens, Suns captain, said about the sweep, "It was huge. Sure, Jackson Hole was a little short, but we've played short against the Moose lots of times. Everybody is in a good mood in our locker room."
Defense and depth sparked the Suns in front of big crowds—550 fans for Friday's shutout and 350 to 400 more for Saturday's benefit for Hailey Ice Park. You can't underestimate the importance of fresh legs and quickness when two evenly-matched teams collide.
"When the other team doesn't have a lot of fresh legs," said Stevens about Jackson Hole's situation, "you get that extra second. Our guys settled themselves during that extra second and took advantage of the chances."
Suns coach Chris Benson said, "The defense had a strong weekend in our zone, clearing things from the front. And Ryan (Thomson) was awesome in the goal. Our forecheckers also stymied them a little, preventing the quick breakout passes they like."
Benson added, "The pace of play was up, and everybody skated and moved the puck well. Our first unit (left wing Ryan Enrico, center Ryan McDonald and right wing Baranzelli) generated a little bit of electricity, and I spotted a fourth line to give our top guys a little time off."
McDonald's forward line accounted for 13 of 33 Suns points for the weekend. Indeed, the Suns out-pointed the Moose 33-3 on the scoresheet and out-scored them 12-1. There was a lot to like, for Suns fans.
The Suns improved to 4-2 on the season and Moose fell to 7-5, having lost all four of its road games. Jackson has outscored opponents 61-55 while the Suns are looking stronger on defense, outscoring its foes 31-17.
Saturday's benefit raised $1,850 for Hailey Ice Park.
Sun Valley hosts Philadelphia Independence Friday and Saturday, Jan. 14-15 on resort ice, then the Suns travel on a team bus to South Lake Tahoe Jan. 21-22 for 8:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. games against the Freeze.
Philadelphia is bringing 14 to 15 players, many of them club hockey players for Penn State University or Division 3 college skaters, according to team spokesman Ross Cowan of the Wissahickon Skating Club.
Opening faceoffs are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 14-15 at Sun Valley Skating Center.
Check next week's Local Life for more Suns action photos from last weekend's Moose set.
Suns 8, Moose 0
Jackson Hole Moose 0 0 0 0
Sun Valley Suns 0 4 4 8
FIRST PERIOD—No scoring.
SECOND PERIOD—(1) SV, Paul Baranzelli 4 (Jamie Ellison, Ivars Muzis), 1:39. (2) SV, Ellison 3 (Muzis), 8:45. (3) SV, John Miller 1 (Ryan McDonald, Jake Glotfelty), 16:00. (4) SV, Ryan Enrico 6 (Baranzelli), 17:09.
THIRD PERIOD—(5) SV, Baranzelli 5 (Enrico, Muzis), 5:08. (6) SV, Enrico 7 (McDonald, Baranzelli), 5:28. (7) SV, Scott Winkler 3 (Muzis, Vilnis Nikolaisons), 12:25. (8) SV, Baranzelli 6 (Frank Salvoni), 19:46, hat trick goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—For Jackson Hole Moose 6-7-8 for 21; for Sun Valley 17-32-14 for 63.
GOALIES—Jackson Hole, Michael Mansson (55 saves); SV, Ryan Thomson (21 saves, 3-2-0 season record);
OFFICIALS—Referee, Jim Kimball; linesmen, Curtis Martin and Bobby Noyes.
NOTES—Suns forward lines were Ryan Enrico-Ryan McDonald-Paul Baranzelli, Vilnis Nikolaisons-Jamie Ellison-Scott Winkler, Frank Salvoni-John Stevens-John Miller, Neal Ford-Bryan Winkler-Caleb Baukol. Ford is a newcomer from Minnesota. Coach Chris Benson rotated 5 defensemen—Ivars Muzis and Chris Warrington, Kris Webster-Jake Glotfelty, and Josh Jacobson....Tonight was the first Suns shutout in the 34-game, eight-season series between the two teams. The only other shutout in the rivalry was Jackson Hole's 6-0 whitewash on Sun Valley ice Feb. 23, 2001....In the last 12 games between the teams, the Moose had scored 83 goals (6.9 per game). But the visitors scored only 1 goal for the entire weekend. The first Suns sweep in the rivalry since 1999 drew the teams closer in cumulative totals, but the Moose still lead 22-11-1. Jackson Hole has outscored Sun Valley 197-149. They meet again March 18-19 at Snow King Center....The Moose were 0-2 on the power play, Sun Valley 0-4. Penalty minutes were SV 22, Moose 22.
Suns 4, Moose 1
Jackson Hole Moose 1 0 0 1
Sun Valley Suns 2 1 1 4
FIRST PERIOD—(1) SV, Ryan McDonald 1 (John Stevens, Ryan Enrico), 2:53. (2) Moose, Sean Hannafin (Aaron Ackley, Bryan Hannafin), 4:35, power play goal. (3) SV, Paul Baranzelli 7 (Chris Warrington, Kris Webster), 7:25, power play goal.
SECOND PERIOD—(4) SV, Frank Salvoni 2 (Warrington, John Miller), 2:30.
THIRD PERIOD—(5) SV, Scott Winkler 4 (Vilnis Nikolaisons, Jamie Ellison), 15:12, power play goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—For Jackson Hole Moose 9-7-6 for 22; for Sun Valley 9-11-9 for 29.
GOALIES—Jackson Hole, Michael Mansson (23 saves) and Ryan Fredericks (2 saves, final 2:26); SV, Ryan Thomson (19 saves, 4-2-0 season record) and John Bidon (2 saves, final 2:26).
OFFICIALS—Referee, Jim Kimball; linesmen, John Heinrich and Eric Wingard.
NOTES—Trailing 2-1, the Moose came out very strong early in the second period, but Suns goalie Ryan Thomson was equal to each threat. In the first seven minutes Thomson made a point blank save on Ben Parkin, who was left alone in the crease, then Thomson stopped Bryan Hannafin with his pad and Adam Kapking, on a break-in. Later, after defenseman Chris Warrington set up the third Suns goal, Thomas made a fine glove save on Sean Hannafin's shorthanded two-on-one attempt.....Paul Baranzelli (4-2 for 6), Ivars Muzis (0-4 for 4) and Ryan Enrico (2-2 for 4) led the Suns in weekend scoring. The Suns out-pointed the Moose 33-3 on the scoresheet.....Suns season point leaders in six games are Baranzelli (7-4 for 11), Enrico (7-4 for 11) and Jamie Ellison 3-7 for 10). Check this week's Express Web site for up-to-date Suns season statistics through six games.....The Moose were 1-3 on the power play (1-5 weekend), Sun Valley 2-5 (2-9 weekend). Penalty minutes were SV 20 (42 weekend) and Moose 34 (56 weekend).....You had an idea that the game wouldn't end without a fracas of some sort, and it happened with 2:26 left in the third period and the Suns ahead 4-1. Vilnis Nikolaisons ended up without a helmet behind the Moose goal, at which point Moose assistant captain Adam Patterson went after Nikolaisons. The pair started throwing punches and obviously Jamie Ellison joined the fray. He and Vilnis got Patterson down on the ice, pummeling him. Then rangy Moose goalie Michael Mansson left the crease and joined the fray, prompting Suns goalie Ryan Thomson to skate from the opposite end and climb into the pile. Patterson and Nikolaisons were assessed roughing minors and fighting majors, while Jackson Hole's Sean Hannafin got a 10-minute misconduct and Ellison drew a game misconduct for third-man-in. The goalies, Mansson and Thomson, each drew leaving the crease minors and fighting majors and took an early shower. They were replaced for the final 2:26 by Ryan Fredericks of Jackson Hole and John Bidon of Sun Valley.