Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Solid start as Bantam Suns sweep home tournament

Local youth hockey sits atop IHL Bantam standing

Sun Valley Bantam players, from left, Nick Crosby, Jackson Bates and Peter Atkinson celebrate one of 23 Suns goals during last weekend's season-opening home tournament at Sun Valley Skating Center.

The Sun Valley Bantam Suns team hosted a season-opening Intermountain Hockey League (IHL) youth hockey tournament at the Sun Valley

Skating Center last weekend.

And the young Suns (ages 13-14) did well in their season opener, sweeping the competition with four wins and placing themselves squarely atop the early IHL Bantam standings.

Despite having only five practices under their belts, the entire Suns Bantans team led by coaches Ryan Enrico and Ted Kelley played controlled and enthusiastic ice hockey.

Sun Valley won its games 7-5 over Idaho Falls, 7-6 over the WMAHA Grizzlies from Salt Lake City, 6-5 over Jackson Hole and 3-1 over Boise.

Saturday morning's 7-5 win over Idaho Falls featured goals by Morgan Pike (2), Jackson Bates (2), Caleb Crawford and Austin Grill. Danny Sundali's playmaking (3 assists) was a factor, while Tommy Heinrich, Anthony Martin, Bo Zak and Jacob Goldman executed the coaches' game plan very well.

In four games Nick Crosby led the offense with six goals and three assists including the season's first hat trick in a 7-6 win over the WMAHA Grizzlies of Salt Lake City. Crosby's hat trick included a shorthanded breakaway that gave the Suns the lead early in the third. The local skaters had trailed 5-1 in the bone-crunching contest.

After Crosby's shorthanded goal, the Salt Lake visitors tied the score 6-6 with less than five minutes remaining in the game. Less than a minute later, Hank Mason found the net, securing the team's second win.

Goalie Cody Levitan shut the door on many good WMAHA scoring chances.

The win over the Grizzlies was one of two scenes of last-minute Bantam heroics in Sun Valley this weekend.

The following game, played Sunday morning against traditional rival Jackson Hole (Wyo.), had all the makings of a battle. Jackson had a strong series of wins behind them, claiming each of its first three games by eight-goal margins.

The game turned into a seesaw battle, a match with five lead-changes that Bobby Noyes, the Idaho Supervisor of Officials, called a "brilliant and entertaining game of hockey."

With less than a minute remaining in a tied game, Austin Grill finalized his first hat trick of the season and the third straight victory for the Bantams with a 6-5 score. Two goals by Crosby and one by Pike completed the scoring.

Bantams goaltender Tye Lampl was strong in net all game, turning aside various Jackson scoring chances. And the defense of Crawford, David Dredge, Niels McMahon, Peter Atkinson and Hannah Carr made Jackson earn everything.

The Bantam Suns capped the weekend and their top IHL standing with a 3-1 triumph over the Boise Blades. Goaltending by Levitan, who shared net with Lampl all weekend, was the difference in the finale.

Next up: The Sun Valley Peewees (11-12) host an IHL series Dec. 10-11 on resort ice.

Sun Valley's scoring summary for last weekend:

Crosby 6/3, Pike 4/4, Grill 5/2, Mason 3/2, Danny Sundali 0/4, Latner Straley 1/1, Caleb Crawford 1/1, Niels McMahon 0/2, Alexander MacMillan 1/0, Zak Sjoberg 0/1, David Dredge 0/1.

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