Former Sun Valley Suns hockey player and head coach Tim Jeneson went on what he called a "scouting trip" to Florida earlier in April and returned to Ketchum with good news for local "Rusty Bladers."
Days after turning 51, the Minnesotan with the sweet left shot competed with a Florida-based squad called Team IMS in the USA Hockey Adult Men's Non-Check Over 50 Division National Championships, Labatt's Blue Division.
Not only that, but Team IMS based out of Fort Myers, Fla. won the April 15 tournament championship at Brandon, Fla. with a 4-1 record including a come-from-behind 4-2 win over The Hosers from Washington, D.C. in the title contest.
"It exceeded my expectations," said Jeneson, who knew many of the skaters in the eight-team tourney. "It was like an old fraternity of guys you've known over the years. Next year I'd like to bring a team or two from here to go down and play some hockey and golf."
Through his association with former Minnesota North Stars pro Steve Jensen, the "Hawk" was placed onto the IMS team in the Wildcat Conference of this year's four-day tournament. The other division was the Schooner Conference.
Jeneson said, "There were guys from Toronto, Montreal, Chicago and Boston, just nine of us, six forwards and three defensemen. We really jelled as a team," said Jeneson.
Team IMS put out a scoring line and a checking forward line. Jeneson, at left wing, was prominent on the scoring line with center Walt Bazylewicz of Detroit and right wing Tim Couch of Boston. Jeneson (5 goals, 8 assists) ended as the top scorer over five games.
"We did our job. Couch was our leading goal scorer. He had a four-goal game and a two-goal game. We said to each other, pass him the puck and lift your stick in the air," Jeneson said.
Team IMS beat the Fire Ants from Florida 7-2 in its opening game April 12 at Brandon Ice Sports Forum and then dropped its second game 2-1 to The Hosers April 13. They regrouped April 14 with a 7-2 romp over the Regency Ol' Timers from Philadelphia, Pa.
Jeneson felt Team IMS was a long shot in the semi-final contest against OB's Crew from Minnesota—a team that included many former Bucks Unfinished Furniture skaters who Hawk had skated against in the past while with the Suns.
"I figured we didn't have a chance, but I guess they did too much tailgating and we beat them 3-2," said Jeneson.
The April 15 championship game was a rematch with The Hosers and Team IMS fell behind 2-0 late in the second period. But the Fort Myers bunch scored a single goal late in the second period and added three unanswered goals in the third.
Final score, 4-2 Team IMS.
As champs, Team IMS may have to move up a division next April at Brandon to the tougher USA Nationals classification, Jeneson said. Meanwhile, they're enjoying their accomplishments in the 2007 meet.