The Sun Valley Midget Suns (11-4-2), hot off a home tournament win, went undefeated in eastern Idaho this past weekend, winning the Idaho Falls IFYHA Golden Eagle Invitational tournament with three wins and a tie against teams from Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
With two consecutive tournament victories during the current 2005-06 season, the Midget Suns are picking up their pace and playing with confidence. It was the second straight year they won the Idaho Falls meet.
The only blemish last weekend was a 5-5 round-robin draw against the Gillette (Wyo.) Wild—the team the young Suns later beat 6-2 in the championship game. For the weekend the Suns outscored their opponents 23-10 (and outshot them 140-89) in four games, establishing themselves as a major force within the Intermountain Hockey League.
Sun Valley made its presence known. The visitors pounded the Billings (Mt.) Junior Bulls 7-0, tied Gillette 5-5 and beat the host Idaho Falls Eagles 5-3 before the title game rematch against Gillette.
Spencer Brendel scored five goals against Billings. There were five different Suns scorers in the 5-5 tie with Gillette—third-period goals by Brendel and Danny Ward gaining the tie. Brendel stayed hot with a three-goal hat trick against the Golden Eagles at daybreak Sunday.
In Sunday's final match, the first period had the two teams neck-and-neck at a 2-2 tie. After this opening act, however, the Midget Suns came out hard from the locker room. Early in the second period the Suns were down a man when Brendel broke the Wild's spirit with an unassisted short-handed goal.
From there, the Suns scored two more unanswered goals in rapid succession, the first by Travis Amick (from Matt Alloway) and the second from Max Kwok (Chad Levitan).
In the third period, Levitan scored his team's third power play goal of the game and finalized the championship win, 6-2.
In Idaho Falls, Brendel led his offense, netting two hat tricks in four games and 10 goals on the weekend. Travis Amick followed him with five goals and two assists, while Chad Levitan rounded out the top scorers with two goals and four assists.
Regan O'Reilly was solid in goal for the championship game, saving 16 of 18 shots. In the three games he played, O'Reilly was the reliable safety net behind a capable defense. He stopped 52 shots for a .880 goals against on the weekend. Back-up goalie Colby Stoecklein was capable in his one start against Idaho Falls, saving 22 of 25 shots.
Overall, Suns coach Andrew Hebert was pleased with his team.
"We played a hard working, disciplined brand of hockey. The guys put the puck to the net and converted rebounds well," he said, adding that the weekend was notable in that the Midgets didn't take any "stupid penalties," a flaw that has long been a Sun Valley Achilles heel.
This coming Friday night, the Midget Suns play the "real" Suns in a Christmas-season exhibition game in Sun Valley. The game is a fundraiser for Sun Valley youth hockey.
Idaho Falls scoring summary: Brendel 10 goals/0 assists, Amick 5/2, Levitan 2/4, Sinjin Thomas 1/3, Michael Connor 0/3, Jason Heiner 1/2, Blake King 1/2, Alloway 0/2, Danny Ward 2/0, Jeff Conover 0/1, Christopher Falcone 0/1, Carl Jablonski 0/1 and Kwok 1/0. Also on the team were Kyle Cole, Patrick McMahon and Sam Samudio.