Friday, December 23, 2005

Holiday hockey brings out Sundowners for alumni game

Rising Suns, Suns play Friday's nightcap


Tonight is hockey night in Sun Valley, as old timers and newcomers take to the ice in consecutive games at the Sun Valley Skating Center.

Two teams of "Sundowners" (Suns alumni) will face off against each other at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Friday), with two 25-minute, running-time halves.

The "Rising Suns" (high school and college-aged players) will battle the current edition of the Sun Valley Suns at 8 p.m., also at the Sun Valley Skating Center.

All proceeds will benefit Sun Valley Youth Hockey.

The Suns senior men's team has celebrated past holidays with a succession of alumni exhibition games.

"It's a fun night over the holiday for a good cause," said Suns general manager, John "Cub" Burke. "If you've ever played with the Suns, you are welcome to be in the alumni game."

The winning team in the alumni game will take home the Phil Neville Memorial Cup, named after the popular former Suns skater and radio broadcaster.

Bench coaches Friday will be professional golfer Davis Love III and Steve "Hugey" McCoy. Burke is Love's caddy on the PGA tour and has convinced Love that hockey in Sun Valley is good for the health.

Love has become a benefactor for the Suns team and enjoys the hockey camaraderie, although he doesn't think he can skate with the caliber of former Suns like Hermie Haavik, Charlie Mills, Glenn Hunter, Dale Johnson, Tim Jeneson, Mark Broz and Tony Benson, Burke said.

"Davis doesn't think he's the caliber to compete with a bunch of 50-year-old fat guys," Burke said. "But he's a real disciplinarian behind the bench. There's a little Scotty Bowman in him."

After presumably coaching his team to victory and the Neville Cup, Love will drop the puck for the 8 p.m. contest between the "Rising Suns" and the Sun Valley Suns, who are off to a good start this season at 2-0.

"I'm real excited about the Rising Suns-Suns game," Burke said. "We'll have about 11 or 12 players from our high school team alone, and they'll play with kids away from home in juniors, prep school or in college."

Those skaters include Burke's stepson Blake Jenson, with the Fort Worth Texans, along with Justin Taylor, Joey Sides of Wentworth College in Boston and Jordan Pritchett. The goaltender will be Regan O'Reilly of the Sun Valley Midgets.

The game, 25-minute stop-time halves, will not allow checking.

The admission fee of $7 adults or $5 for youth ages 6-18 (kids 5-and-under are free) will cover both exhibition games.

"One ticket is good for both games," said Burke.

Friday's Suns exhibition will be a holiday breather before the 2005-06 schedule of 20 home Suns games resumes with a New Year's weekend clash against McCall Dec. 30-31.




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