All-time Sun Valley Suns scoring leaders Vilnis Nikolaisons and Jamie Ellison have strapped on their skates and will lead the Suns into their 36th season of competition Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10-11 against Park City Pioneers.
The friends and frequent linemates are supported by the return of eighth-year goalie Ryan Thomson, bouncing back from an injury-shortened 2009-10 campaign. And the rest of the Suns supporting cast is quite familiar to hockey fans.
Defensemen Ivars Muzis and Eric Demment are back on the blue line, while Johnny Miller, John Stevens, Ryan Enrico, Charles Friedman and Jon Duval are veteran forwards looking to put the puck in the net during the 20-game campaign.
"We're kind of psyched for the season," said Friedman, who doubles as Suns general manager. "We've improved the schedule with teams from Canada, Minnesota and the East Coast. We have new bodies and promising talent to boost the energy level. And we're probably a little deeper this year.
"Plus, it's good having Ryan (Thomson) back in the goal."
This will be the second year that the Suns team has been split off from The Suns Foundation, although the foundation continues to handle the weekly Saturday night benefits. Friedman said, "It means the guys on the team are doing all the work to make it happen."
A newcomer to the defense is Shawn Rynes, who played for the McCall Mountaineers against the Suns during the 2008-09 season. Young players like Jordan Pritchett, Chad Levitan and Matt Ward—all local youth hockey players—will continue to contribute.
Centers include Ellison, Duval, Friedman and Levitan. On the left wings are Enrico, Pritchett, Cody Proctor and Noah Loyd. Lining up on the right are Nikolaisons, Blake Jenson, Johnny Miller and Taylor Rothgeb. Former Idaho Steelheads star Jeremy Mylymok is due to come up from Boise and play part-time.
The Suns (11-7-0 last winter) are 566-227-29 in their 35 winters and are looking to draw closer to 600 franchise victories this winter. The visit of Bobby Farrelly's Boston Gutter Snipes is due to wrap up the 2010-11 season on March 4-5.
From Dec. 31-March 5, the Suns are due to play on nine of 10 weekends including a Jan. 7-8 trip to Park City, Utah—the only road trip of the team's season. The local men won't play Feb. 4-5 because of their participation as volunteers in the Boulder Mountain Ski Tour.
Sun Valley Suns 2010-11 Ice Hockey Schedule
Sun Valley's senior elite men's hockey team, entering its 36th season of competition, has a 20-game schedule—18 games at home and 2 away. All 2-game home series are played Friday and Saturdays starting at 7 p.m. at Sun Valley Skating Center.
DATES OPPONENT LOCATION, BENEFITS
Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10-11 Park City (Utah) Pioneers Home, Camp Rainbow Gold
Wednesday, Dec. 22 Future Suns vs. Suns holiday exhibition Home, Brett Sammis Scholarship
Friday and Saturday, Dec. 31-Jan. 1 UC Utah Blizzard Home, Hailey Ice
Friday and Saturday, Jan. 7-8 Park City (Utah) Pioneers Park City, Utah
Friday and Saturday, Jan. 14-15 Cache Valley (Utah) Trappers Home, Sun Valley Ballet
Friday and Saturday, Jan. 21-22 Langley Senior Chiefs (B.C., Canada) Home, Sun Valley Adaptive Sports
Friday and Saturday, Jan. 28-29 Vancouver Moto Ice (B.C., Canada) Home, Sawtooth Pony Club
Friday and Saturday, Feb. 4-5 No games scheduled, Boulder Mt. Ski Tour
Friday and Saturday, Feb. 11-12 Missoula (Mt.) Cutthroats Home, Park Penguins
Friday and Saturday, Feb. 18-19 Wright Homes (Minnesota) Home, Girls on the Run
Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25-26 Philadelphia (Pa.) Home, Sawtooth United F.C.
Friday and Saturday, March 4-5 Boston (Mass.) Gutter Snipes Home, Wood River Baseball/Softball
NOTES—All home games at Sun Valley Skating Center begin at 7 p.m. There are three 20-minute periods. Games last about two-and-a-half hours. Ticket prices are $8 general admission, $5 for kids ages 6-18, free for kids 5-and-under......Suns players will have their annual Volunteer Aid Station at the Boulder Mountain Ski Tour Feb. 5, 2011.....The originally scheduled Dec. 17-18 home games with Bozeman as a benefit for The Sage School will likely be held later in the season........Spectators are asked not to bring alcoholic beverages into the arena. Refreshments and food are sold in the rink. Parking will be allowed in the two lots just to the western side of the rink, but no parking will be permitted on Dollar Road. In addition, spectators can park in the main Sun Valley parking lot by the village.
Sun Valley Suns Roster for 2010-11
Listed are player names, ages, years with the Sun Valley Suns team, hometowns and previous hockey teams.
Ryan "Eggshell" Thomson, 32, 8th year Flagstaff, Ariz.. New England Coll./Anchorage Aces
Mat "Gersh" Gershater, 32, 11th year Flagstaff, Ariz. Great Falls Jrs./Univ. of St. Thomas
Billy Cook, 29, 6th year Sun Valley SV Junior Hockey/Manhattanville
Ivars "Muzzy" Muzis, 37, 13th year Riga, Latvia Juniors Riga
Eric "D-Day" Demment, 33, 9th year Etna, N.H. Williams College/France
Josh "Lincoln Hawk" Jacobson, 33, 7th year Mound, Minn. Hibbing Community College
Trevor "Trestor" Thomas, 26, 6th year San Diego, Ca. SV Junior Hockey
Jeremy "Mylsie" Mylymok, 38, 4th year London, Ontario.. Univ. of Alaska-Anchorage/Idaho Steelheads
Other defensemen: Sinjin Thomas, Shawn Rynes, Zak Greenawalt
Johnny "5-0" Miller, 47, 19th year Darien, Conn. New Hampton Academy
John "Chugga" Stevens, 38, 16th year Anchorage, Ak. Univ. of Scranton
Jamie "Shorty" Ellison, 38, 15th year Anchorage, Ak. Northern Arizona/Herferd Devils (Germ.)
Vilnis "Villy" Nikolaisons, 36, 13th year Riga, Latvia Juniors Riga
Caleb Baukol, 41, 12th year Aurora, Colo. Univ. of Montana/WSU
Ryan "Rico" Enrico, 30, 8th year Hoboken, N.J. New England College (Henniker, N.H.)
Charles "C-Note" Friedman, 34, 6th year London, England Senior Hockey League/Grumpy's
Jon "Jimmy" Duval, 32, 5th year Boston, Mass. Willams College/New Zealand Premier
Bryan Winkler, 26, 5th year Sun Valley SV Junior Hockey/Avon Old Farms
Blake Jenson, 24, 5th year Hailey Fort Worth Texans/Oswego (N.Y.)
Cody "Roddy" Proctor, 28, 4th year Boulder, Colo. BSU/Port Alberni (Victoria Island) Jrs.
Third-year players—Taylor Rothgeb, Jordan Pritchett and Noah Loyd. Second-year players—Matt Ward, Michael Connor and Bobby Sloper. Rookie forward—Chad Levitan.
Head coach—Reg Dunlop (Johnstown Chiefs, RIP) General manager—Charles Friedman
Director of Officials—Bobby Noyes Team doctor—Dr. Frank Batcha and Dr. Tony Buoncristiani
Security—Ketchum and Sun Valley fire departments. Merchandise—Benefit groups