Friday, January 4, 2008

Suns fall to McCall in third period debacle

Sun Valley hosts Salt Lake City this weekend

Express Staff Writer

The Suns battle on defense Saturday in a 7-4 loss to the McCall Mountaineers. Number 82 is Paul Baranzelli and Number 7 is Eric Demment. Photo by Willy Cook

The Sun Valley Suns men's hockey team had plenty of memorable moments in 2007, like 20 victories in 22 games and a potent offense that averaged nearly seven goals a game.

Saturday's year-ending game against the McCall Mountaineers at Sun Valley Skating Center wasn't one of those memorable moments.

Out-skated and outscored 6-3 in Friday's series opener, the Mountaineer veterans fell behind 3-0 and 4-2 Saturday night. But McCall scored five unanswered goals in the third period to shock the Suns 7-4.

"It was a brutal third period all the way around," said Suns coach Chris Benson. "They're smart hockey players Give them little gaps and they'll find them."

McCall's Brett Gallagher, skating on a forward line with Idaho Steelheads Hall of Fame wing Cal Ingraham, scored four goals for the night including a three-goal hat trick in the third period alone.

The Mountaineers snapped a five-game losing streak to Sun Valley dating back to last December, when the Suns swept McCall in home-and-home clashes en route to a 6-0 December record that led to a outstanding 23-1-0 winter campaign.

Any notion of another nearly unbeaten Suns season vanished with Saturday's McCall win. Benson related a post-game locker room comment by defenseman Paul Baranzelli: "As Barnz said, the pressure is off."

Benson added, "We stopped skating and started making stupid decisions and the results showed."

McCall's British Columbia-born 35-year-old goalie Blair Allison (University of Maine 1993-96 and Steelheads 2001-07) played both games for the Mountaineers last weekend but really stepped up with big saves as McCall rallied late.

"Allison kicked it up a notch," said Benson. "It was a real shot in the arm for them and we rolled over."

All of Sun Valley's goals Saturday came in the second period. Scoring were Ryan McDonald, Ryan Enrico, Jeremy Schreiber and Adam Swain.

Sun Valley (3-1-0) resumes action Friday and Saturday, Jan. 4-5, with a two-game weekend series. A late schedule change pits the Suns against a team from Salt Lake City rather than the Spokane Railers as originally planned. Game time for both clashes is still 7 p.m. at the Sun Valley Skating Center. Saturday's game is a benefit for the Ketchum Park Penguins, a non-profit children's skating program at Atkinson Park.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for youngsters. Children under 5 get in for free.

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