Friday, February 25, 2005

Squirts play big in Idaho Falls

The Sun Valley squirt hockey team and coaches take a break during the Idaho Falls Squirt Invitational

The frigid temperatures inside the Idaho Falls ice rink were no match for the heat generated by the seven teams participating in the Squirt Invitational hockey tournament.

Sun Valley, Salmon, Logan, Utah and four teams from Idaho Falls made up the field for the two-day tournament, staged over President's Day weekend.

The Suns skated four highly competitive games, displaying great teamwork, tenacity and heart.

"The kids played very hard," coach Mike Punnett said. "I think they put out a great effort and just came up a little short."

The Suns opened with a narrow 6-5 loss to Idaho Falls Green (4-0), the only team to make it through the tournament without a tie or loss, although the Suns nearly handed them one.

Stephan Pfeiffer put in a pass by Mason Noyes with 1:05 remaining, but time ran out before Sun Valley could notch the equalizer. A.J. Rierden, Drew Punnett, Parker Weekes and Noyes (2) also scored. Goalie Gus Conrad made 16 saves.

Trailing Idaho Falls Black 3-0 in the first period, the Suns reeled off three consecutive goals to tie the score 3-3 with 10 minutes remaining in the second period. Gus Conrad netted the equalizer. Black scored to go up 4-3, but Rierden answered to make it a 4-4 game heading into the third period.

Black (3-0-1) got loose in the defensive zone, scoring three goals in the final five minutes to win 7-4. Rickie Jeneson came up with seven saves in net.

After a big night of swimming, chicken fights and unlimited pizza, the Suns played the unbeaten Teal (3-0-1) team from Idaho Falls Sunday morning.

Trailing 3-1 in the second period, the Suns Mack Schlamp chased down a loose puck and converted to make it 3-2 with 6:37 left in the period, but Teal scored the next three goals to prevail 6-3. Netminder Conrad had 21 saves.

The Suns final game against Idaho Falls White (3-1-1) could have gone either way. The teams were knotted 1-1 for the majority of the game. Sun Valley's score was a beauty by defenseman Jon Paris, who skated coast to coast to put the Suns on the scoreboard. Andrew Latham netted both goals for Idaho Falls, and got the game-winner with 5:14 remaining in the contest. Suns goalie Drew Punnett stopped 17 shots.

Of the other teams in the tournament, Salmon finished with an 0-5 record and Logan went 1-3-1.

A.J. Rierden topped all point scorers on the weekend with 3 goals and 1 assist. Also: Mason Noyes 2/1; Drew Punnett 2/0; Jon Paris 2/0; Mack Schlamp 1/1; Drew Barsch 0/2; Gus Conrad 1/0; Parker Weekes 1/0; Stephan Pfeiffer 1/0; Chase Hutchinson 0/1; Eric Hennessy 0/1; Tukker Wolfley 0/1. Calder Zarkos, Riley Sibbach and Rickie Jeneson also skated for the Suns.

Sun Valley wraps up the competitive season at McCall, March 12-13.

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