Ketchum's Cody Lampl, 20, may have gotten the boot from the highly regarded Colorado College men's ice hockey team, but Lampl's presence came in mighty handy for the Sun Valley Suns squad last weekend.
Lampl should have been playing for #4-ranked Division 1 Colorado College (16-6-0, 15-3-0) last weekend during their 6-1 and 5-2 home sweep over University of Alaska-Anchorage that extended the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) lead of the Tigers.
At the end of December, the Colorado Springs school penalized Lampl and two of his teammates with school-imposed suspensions because of student conduct. Lampl received the harshest penalty of the three, a one-year suspension through Jan. 2009. The ruling has been appealed.
So, instead of playing in the state-of-the-art, 10-year-old 7,343-seat World Arena at Colorado Springs last weekend, Lampl settled for playing a big role for the Suns as they split a two-game weekend series in the 34-year-old, 700-spectator Sun Valley Skating Center.
The 5-11, 171-pound defenseman/wing who grew up in the Sun Valley junior hockey program scored two power play goals in the third period of Saturday's 5-3 Suns come-from-behind win over the Innisfail Eagles from Alberta, Canada.
Lampl, a strong contributor to Colorado College special teams on the power play and a leader in hits for the Tigers last season, scored the equalizer at 3-3 in the third and gave the Suns (6-2-0) a two-goal cushion with another man advantage goal with nine minutes gone.
He finished the two-game series as the leading Suns scorer with three power play goals and two assists.
Another Suns hero, probably the #1 star of Saturday's win, was sixth-year defenseman Eric "D-Day" Demment. A week after pulling a skier safely out of an avalanche on Baldy, ski patrolman Demment scored two goals with two huge assists in the third period rally.
All in all, the Suns after falling behind 3-1 scored four unanswered goals in eight minutes to take the wind out of Innisfail's sails. The Eagles captured Friday's opener 7-6 in an overtime shootout, after tying the game 4-4 at the end of regulation with a shorthanded tally.
Demment didn't play in Friday's scintillating exhibition of fast, clean hockey. Arriving in Sun Valley for the first time after a 19-hour bus ride from Alberta, Innisfail (7-11 season) scored on three of its five shootout opportunities to beat Sun Valley 7-6. The Suns made two shootout goals, by Adam Swain and Paul Baranzelli.
"It was up and down the ice the whole night," said Suns coach Chris Benson about Friday's hard and clean hockey.
Lampl played on defense for the Suns Friday and scored a power play goal to put the Suns ahead 4-3 in the third, but the son of Tom and Lisa Lampl probably shouldn't have played at all Saturday. He and Eagles defenseman Karl Gartly drew five-minute fighting penalties as the end of regulation time and were ejected Friday night.
Suns coach Chris Benson explained to Eagles coach Mike Bennett after Friday's game that, under USA Hockey rules, Lampl and Gartly wouldn't be able to play in Saturday's game since fighting penalties carry one-game suspensions.
When Bennett ignored the rules and went ahead and played Gartly anyway Saturday, Benson called upon Lampl, who wasn't dressed or on the roster for the game. Lampl arrived for the start of the second period and played a key role.
It looked like the Suns might suffer a rare back-to-back set of home losses when Innisfail's Adam Vetter slipped a wrist shot past Suns goalie Ryan Thomson (25 saves Saturday, 30 saves Friday) on the first Eagles flight down ice in the third.
Then, a drop pass from leading Suns scorer Vilnis Nikolaisons to Demment at the blue line sent in the sniper from New England for a low wrist shot cutting Innisfail's lead to 3-2. It was an even-strength goal. The rest of Sun Valley's strikes came on the power play.
On a five-on-three, Demment kept the puck in the offensive zone and whipped it over to Paul Baranzelli who was quarterbacking the power play along the side boards. Baranzelli saw Lampl at the corner of the net and whipped a pass that Lampl poked home for a 3-3 tie.
Sun Valley's hungry forechecking made a difference again, when top goal scorer Adam Swain prevented the puck from leaving the offensive zone and got it over to Baranzelli in the corner. His pass went to Demment, 4-3, on another five-on-three power play.
Finally, Jeremy Mylymok cranked up a shot from the point that Lampl gathered at the side of the net and curled past goalie Jordan Ramstead (85 saves weekend) for the 5-3 insurance. It was
Sun Valley's third power play goal in just over four minutes.
"Innisfail is a good hockey club and they even came down here a little shorthanded," said coach Benson. "We had some power plays in the third period and got back the momentum. And we moved the puck around pretty well to set up some good scoring chances. They got tired and we took advantage."
After being such a clean showcase for hockey skills over five periods, the Innisfail-Sun Valley series deteriorated in the third period Saturday. Seven players, three from Sun Valley and four from Innisfail, got the gate for fighting. There were 90 penalty minutes in the third period alone, compared to 152 for the weekend.
Ellison given match penalty
Last year's Sun Valley Suns leading scorer, 12th-year center Jamie Ellison, was given one of USA Hockey's most serious penalties at the end of Saturday's penalty-filled Suns home game against the Innisfail Eagles from Alberta, Canada.
Referee Paul Fitzer of Boise, an experienced USA Hockey official who has worked Idaho Steelheads minor league hockey games, assessed Ellison a match penalty as time expired on Sun Valley's 5-3 senior hockey win over Innisfail at Sun Valley Skating Center.
On the scoresheet Fitzer said the penalty was given to Ellison for challenging the referee to fight, attempt to injure and threaten fisticuffs. Fitzer spent time after the game filing out a report giving details about his encounter with Ellison.
Suns director of officials Bobby Noyes said a match penalty usually calls for a hearing with USA Hockey officials and a possible suspension from all activity relating to hockey for up to 30 days. He expected Fitzer to file his report with regional officiating director Bob McMahon of Salt Lake City, Utah, and a hearing to be set.
Benson, fourth-year Suns head coach who has been with the franchise for 18 years, said, "I've never had to deal with a match penalty before but I have talked with Jamie about what happened. The party involved (Ellison) should be able to state his case."
Fitzer has been the referee for all six Sun Valley Suns games since Dec. 28, against McCall, Utah and Innisfail.
Weekend games canceled
Sun Valley's weekend series with Fox Cities from Wisconsin Friday and Saturday, Jan. 18-19 has been canceled. Coach Benson said Monday he exhausted all resources in trying to schedule another team to come.
So, the next scheduled Suns series is against Rossland, B.C., Canada Jan. 25-26.