Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Add the Jersey boys to Suns? win list

Sun Valley (12-0-0) sweeps again 8-6, 4-3

Express Staff Writer

Adam Swain makes another attack on the Jersey net, Beacon Hill goalie Marc Scheuer tending the pipes. Photo by Willy Cook

New England skaters Eric Demment and Adam Swain enjoyed big weekends leading the Sun Valley Suns men's hockey team to an 8-6 and 4-3 sweep over the visiting Beacon Hill Hockey Club from Summit, N.J. Friday and Saturday at Sun Valley Skating Center.

The Suns (12-0-0) stayed unbeaten with Friday's come-from-behind victory for returning goalie Tony Benson (39 saves) and Saturday's one-goal triumph behind another fine effort by fourth-year ace goalie Ryan Thomson (44 saves).

Suns coach Chris Benson said, "You start off just hoping you'll be 12-0-0 halfway through the season. We're just getting a full team effort and not relying on two or three guys to carry the load. The boys are showing a lot of character and they're not getting rattled too much."

Fifth-year defenseman Demment, 29, from New Hampshire piled up six weekend points and rookie wing Swain, 24, from Connecticut, earned four points Friday and scored the eventual game winner Saturday with his proud parents rooting hard in the gallery.

Neither game was easy for the Suns, coming off their hard-fought 5-3 and 5-4 wins over arch-rival Jackson Hole Moose in Wyoming Jan. 12-13. Beacon Hill was a little shorthanded with only 13 skaters but the Jersey boys had a strong squad.

Beacon Hill goalie Marc Scheuer (68 weekend saves) was short in stature but he stood tall in the net as a senior for Middlebury College three years ago when the Panthers won their first of three straight NCAA Division 3 men's hockey championships in 2004.

And Beacon Hill had a potent forward line including former Potsdam State scoring ace Steve Naughton and Scheuer's Middlebury teammate Andrew Helming. He played with Adam Swain in junior hockey. And they were coached by Adam's father Garry Swain, a former pro hockey player.

It was a power weekend featuring a rare total of 11 power-play goals, eight by the Suns.

Friday, first-period power-play goals by defenseman Jeremy Schreiber—his first for the Suns—and John Stevens helped stake the Suns to a 3-1 lead. But Beacon Hill answered with five unanswered goals in the second period and a stunning 6-3 lead.

Suns coach Chris Benson said, "Beacon Hill brought a good team, but I told the team between the second and third periods that there was no sense wasting our two wins last weekend at Jackson Hole and throwing this game away."

Demment tied it 6-6 just 19 seconds into the third period with a power-play blast from the point after some great passing from the Blake Jenson-Ryan McDonald-Adam Swain forward line. Then, center Jamie Ellison made the initial pass to wing Ryan Enrico in the slot. Goalie Scheuer blocked Enrico's shot but Ellison top-shelved the rebound, 7-6 Suns.

Chris Warrington's power-play shot from the point with McDonald screening Scheuer accounted for the insurance goal as the Suns finished the game with five unanswered goals—and goalie Tony Benson stopped all 24 Beacon Hill shots in the third and final period.

"Tony played great in the third period," said Benson about his older brother, the Suns #1 goalie in the 1990s making his first Suns appearance in the net in seven years.

Saturday night, Enrico's second-period shorthanded goal tied the game 2-2 and Demment provided his team with a 3-2 lead with yet another power-play goal as the second period ticked away. Beacon Hill didn't give an inch, though.

Coach Benson said, "They didn't let up. Their goalie was solid and made big saves."

Beacon Hill tended to tire in the third period both nights, and a misplayed cross-ice pass on defense led to the eventual game winner. Opportunistic Blake Jenson picked off the pass in the Suns offensive zone and centered to Swain, who beat Scheuer in tight quarters.

Check the Express Web site for Suns season statistics and a hockey summary from the Beacon Hill home games.

Next: The Seattle (Wash.) Indians will provide a tough test this weekend as the Suns try to stretch their 12-game unbeaten streak. Former National Senior Open king Seattle arrives for a two-game series Friday and Saturday, Jan. 26-27.

Opening faceoffs are 7 p.m. and tickets are $7. Saturday's game is a benefit for the Sawtooth Pony Club.

"There are no weak links in our schedule," said Benson. "The teams coming up are tough. But our home crowds have been awesome. We can't thank the community enough."

Close games—five one-goal decisions in the last eight meetings—have become the norm when Sun Valley and Seattle clash. Last St. Patrick's Day weekend, the Suns won 5-4 Friday and lost 4-3 Saturday. The Suns swept in 2003, winning 5-2 and 4-3 (OT). Over New Year's weekend in 2001, the Suns prevailed 7-5 and 7-6 (OT shootout). But Seattle swept in 2000 by scores of 5-2 and 7-6 (OT).

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