The band played in the mezzanine, a big crowd packed into Snow King Center and the Sun Valley Suns and Jackson Hole Moose resumed their long and heated hockey rivalry last weekend at the Wyoming rink.
On a chilly winter night, Friday’s game turned into a hot barnburner in the Moose barn with the shorthanded Suns pushing the unbeaten Moose to the limit before falling 6-5 in a shootout. On Saturday, the Moose jumped to a 5-1 lead and breezed to a 6-3 weekend sweep.
Third-year Suns center Chad Levitan, 24, was voted the No. 2 star Friday for his three-goal effort including Sun Valley’s only shootout goal. His brother, goalie Cody Levitan, 20, was thrown into the fire because of an injury to starter Ryan Thomson and made 79 saves.
Cody Levitan earned the coveted “George Jacket.’ Suns coach Steve Morcone said, “Cody, I don’t think he’s old enough to have a beer. To start for us on the road with a big crowd like that, I thought he did extremely well. And Chad played out of his mind.”
Morcone, who traveled with just 15 players including one goalie, said, “The Moose were bigger than us. We were outmatched Friday when we had a 4-3 lead and they started hitting us in the third period. The guys gave it everything they had. We just ran out of gas at the end.”
The Moose (4-0) used four forward lines and, most importantly, had two veteran goaltenders. Former St. Olaf College (2007-11, 31-17-5 record) goalie Nick Krauss, 32, made 38 saves in Friday’s win. Former Monroe Community College (Rochester, N.Y.) goalie Dan Amborski stopped 38 Saturday.
Amborski was the winning goalie with 41 saves the last time the two teams played in Jan. 2009, in Idaho—coincidentally, by an identical 6-3 score.
Starting slowly Friday and falling into a 2-0 hole, the Suns started their rally with Chad Levitan’s shorthanded goal, and then overcame a 3-1 deficit with three unanswered goals by center Jon Duval, Chad Levitan and right wing Bryan O’Connell (2 goals weekend).
But Moose veteran Chris DeMarco, always a thorn in the Suns side, equalized with a power-play goal in the dwindling minutes of regulation and the outcome went immediately into a five-player shootout.
The Moose shot first, and scored first with Spencer Morton’s second goal. After Ryan Enrico missed for the Suns, Chad Levitan was the second shooter and made his shot. Duval hit the post, and former Vail skater Alex Biegler scored the eventual game winner on the fourth Moose attempt. Scott Winkler and O’Connell couldn’t make good on their final shots.
Saturday, Biegler had a three-goal Moose hat trick and Brian Hannafin added two. Blake King, Winkler and O’Connell scored Suns goals. Rookie Doug Yeates finished with three weekend assists.
Morcone said, “It was a clean, intense and competitive series. (Moose coach) Bob Carruth and I promised to each other that things wouldn’t get out of hand. They went out of their way to take care of us, like providing us a back-up goalie from their roster. I hope we can do the same for them.”
Jackson Hole now leads the 13-season, 52-game rivalry by a 32-19-1 count including a 19-6-1 record on the Snow King ice.
Suns have fundraiser Thursday, host Pioneers Friday
The Suns’ “Kickoff Weekend” begins Thursday, Dec. 13 with a fundraising benefit starting at 6 p.m. at Whiskey Jacques in Ketchum. It includes a 50-50 raffle and silent auction. Money raised helps the Suns finance their campaign. Music begins at 10 p.m.
Park City’s Pioneers arrive Friday, Dec. 14 for a two-game series with opening faceoffs at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Pioneers (0-5, 0-3 Mountain West Hockey League) have started their 20-game season with 6-3 and 8-5 losses at the Moose barn, plus MWHL losses to the Salt Lake City Rebels by close 4-3, 5-2 and 4-2 scores.
Coach Morcone expects the Pioneers to bring an experienced team that includes ECHL minor league veterans Kory Scoran, Mike Adamek, Mark Adamek and Ben Wilner. Six-year pro defenseman Scoran, from Lake Superior State, won a 2007 ECHL Kelly Cup title with the Idaho Steelheads.
Another holiday treat is the Future Suns youngsters clashing with the current Suns in a Dec. 26 home exhibition to raise money for youth hockey. Then the Moose are the Suns’ guests for a big New Year’s series Dec. 28-29.
Suns Hockey Summary
MOOSE 6, suns 5 (shootout)
friday, dECEMBER 7
Sun Valley Suns12215
FIRST PERIOD—(1) Moose, Spencer Morton 1 (Alex Biegler), 7:13. (2) Moose, Charlie Hagen 2 (Joe Casey, Brian Hannafin), 8:18. (3) SV, Chad Levitan 1 (unassisted), 18:52, shorthanded goal.
SECOND PERIOD—(4) Moose, Brian Hannafin 2 (Casey, Justin Thomas), 9:29. (5) SV, Jon Duval 1 (Ivars Muzis, Ryan Enrico), 14:07. (6) SV, Levitan 2 (Doug Yeates), 14:52.
THIRD PERIOD—(7) SV, Bryan O’Connell 1 (Duval, Enrico), 10:26. (8) Moose, Chris DeMarco 2 (Justin Thomas), 14:26, power play goal.
SHOOTOUT—(9) Moose, Morton 2. (10) SV, Levitan 3, hat trick goal. (11) Moose, Biegler 3, game-winning goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Sun Valley 12-15-11-5 for 43; Jackson Hole, 21-12-10-5 for 48.
GOALIES—Sun Valley, Cody Levitan (42 saves, 0-1-0 record); Jackson Hole, Nick Krauss (38 saves).
NOTES—No. 1 Suns goalie Ryan Thomson took a shot off his knee during practice last week and couldn’t make the trip to Jackson Hole. Coach Steve Morcone said, “His knee swelled up like a balloon.”…….Second-year forward Ryan Kolquist from Duluth, Minn. “got clocked” during tonight’s game and couldn’t play Saturday. Morcone said, “Ryan is maybe 150 pounds, and the Moose were so much bigger than us. He maybe got knocked out but finished the game. He couldn’t play Saturday though.”…..The Moose provided the Suns with a back-up goalie, sending third-stringer Tony Civello over to the Suns bench…..Suns forward lines featured Ryan Enrico-Jon Duval-Bryan O’Connell, Taylor Rothgeb-Chad Levitan-Scott Winkler, and Ryan Kolquist-Charles Friedman-Blake King….The Suns played five defenseman with Ivars Muzis, Trevor Thomas, Danny Ward, Zak Greenawalt and Doug Yeates, who spent time on defense as well as forward……Morcone said Suns future opponents Park City Pioneers and Salt Lake City Rebels are members of the newly-formed Mountain West Hockey League. Sun Valley and Jackson Hole were approached to join the league comprised of many former college and minor league pro players, but declined this year…..Moose goalie Nick Krauss was the No. 1 star of tonight’s game. Krauss, 32, a 6-0, 175-pounder from Naperville, Ill., played four years and 54 games for St. Olaf College after spending time with the EJHL Bay State Breakers…..The crowd-pleasing musicians playing on the mezzanine got the Moose crowd jazzed up, but they were stationed right above the Suns locker room. Morcone said, “Our locker room was vibrating. But the Moose were good to us. They provided us pizza and made sure we had beer.”
MOOSE 6, SUNS 3
SATURday, DECEMBER 8
Sun Valley Suns0213
Jackson Hole Moose2316
FIRST PERIOD—(1) Moose, Alex Biegler 4 (unassisted), 1:50. (2) Moose, Brian Hannafin 3 (Joe Casey, Charlie Hagen), 10:13, power play goal.
SECOND PERIOD—(3) Moose, Spencer Morton 3 (Matt Kruvant, Justin Thomas), 2:26. (4) Moose, Biegler 5 (Luke Smith, Chris DeMarco), 7:30. (5) SV, Blake King 1 (Doug Yeates, Charles Friedman), 9:07. (6) Moose, Brian Hannafin 4 (Emerson Eichler), 11:22. (7) SV, Scott Winkler 1 (Yeates, Trevor Thomas), 16:28.
THIRD PERIOD—(8) SV, Bryan O’Connell 2 (Chad Levitan), 9:14. (9) Moose, Biegler 6 (Luke Smith, Morton), 12:25, power play and hat trick goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Sun Valley 14-17-10 for 41; Jackson Hole, 10-17-16 for 43.
GOALIES—Sun Valley, Cody Levitan (37 saves, 0-2-0 record); Jackson Hole, Dan Amborski (38 saves).
NOTES—Leading the Suns weekend scorers was Chad Levitan (3 goals, 1 assist)….The Moose out-pointed Sun Valley 27-18 led by Alex Biegler (4 goals, 1 assist), Spencer Morton (3 goals, 1 assist) and Brian Hannafin (3 goals, 1 assist)…..The Moose were 3-for-5 on the power play for the weekend, and the Suns 0-for-7……Penalty minutes were pretty much at the minimum over two games, with the Suns drawing 27 minutes and the Moose 29. There was only one scrum tonight, featuring Trevor Thomas of the Suns and Jeff Zelazoski of the Moose, each taking 5-minute fighting penalties in the third period…..Morcone was impressed with the number of Jackson Hole spectators who rooted for the Suns. “We also had a good crowd of about 20 people who came from Ketchum,” said Morcone. The team roomed at Snow King Resort……Morcone was happy to renew acquaintance with Moose assistant coach Bryan Korpi, who, like Morcone, was in Ketchum for the pub crawl with the Stanley Cup in 2011. Morcone, Korpi and Jimmy “Beets” Johnson, the instigator of the Stanley Cup visit, played on the same forward line for the Suns in the early 1980s…..Having lost Ryan Kolquist to his head injury for tonight’s game, the Suns also lost Taylor Rothgeb to a separated shoulder during the contest…..Blake King took a slapshot off his ankle and continued to play tonight. Chad Levitan broke his skate, taped it up and kept going out for his shift. And defenseman Danny Ward “didn’t back down,” Morcone said. The coach added, “We really fought back hard in the second and third period. They showed me a lot, especially after starting so badly in the first periods of both games.”