“It was a good collection of hockey players,” said Sun Valley Suns head coach Steve Morcone about the Northeast Moose Knuckles squad from New England that swept last weekend’s senior men’s ice hockey series 3-2 and 8-1.
He said, “Our guys battled, but the other team was just bigger and better. They outweighed us considerably. They were 6-1 and 200-something. We were 5-9 and 100-something. But the final score Saturday didn’t reflect how close it was.”
Ketchum’s Bobby Farrelly, a Rhode Islander brought up on the Bobby Orr fever that raged in New England hockey during the late 1960s and early 1970s, invited a group of 27 lifer hockey players including 20 from Massachusetts. Goalie Farrelly had a stalwart group of Moose Knuckler defenders.
Those defenders backed by the stingy work of goalies Farrelly and Ryan Simpson did a number on the Suns 4.9 goals per game offense. They limited Sun Valley to three goals on 67 shots while freeing the Northeast offense to score 11 goals on 85 shots themselves.
Goalie Simpson, 24, who played at Providence College, was the Moose Knucklers “closer,” finishing the final period of Friday’s close 3-2 win and blanking the Suns in the final two periods Saturday. He allowed only one goal, Jon Duval’s neat power-play tally from Eric Demment that made Friday’s game a tight one at 3-2.
“He’s the real deal,” commented Moose Knuckles veteran Jack Smith of Barnstable, Mass. and Fairfield (Ct.) University about goalie Simpson.
And the Knuckles defenders were lock-down tight in NCAA Division 1 style. Co-captain Scott Shaunessy played for Boston University, Canadian Rylan Burns for Amherst College, Gerry Burke for Brown University and Dave Kavanagh for Providence College.
That doesn’t include dread-locked African-American Chris Nelson, 43, a sophomore defenseman on the University of Wisconsin’s 1990 NCAA championship team. He played seven years in minor league hockey, another 10 years in international-level roller hockey and handled Suns skaters in the corners as deftly as he likely handles celebrities in his job serving the public at Hollywood’s glitzy W Hotel.
“We didn’t get a lot of rebounds,” said Morcone. “Their forwards came back well, their defense was pretty solid and we had no real sustained pressure. Bobby (Farrelly) has been in town since Christmas and has been playing a lot of hockey—and he played well. He kept them in the game early and their other goalie did the rest.”
But Suns goalie Ryan Thomson played extremely well, too.
Thomson earned the weekend “George Jacket” for his 40 saves Friday night and 34 saves Saturday against the Knuckles onslaught led by hat trick scorer Pierce Norton, 27, a 6-2, 200-pounder who played 135 games with 59 points for Providence College from 2005-09.
“Ryan (Thomson) made a lot of really big stops,” said Morcone. He was also happy about the return to action of Ryan Enrico. “Rico” bounced back from his knee injury to dish out two assists Friday and lead the Suns charge with Duval and Demment. “Those guys didn’t back down,” said the coach.
Rhode Island’s Chris Warrington, a sturdy seven-year Suns defenseman through the 2009-10 season, returned to Sun Valley last weekend the proud father of an 18-month-old daughter. The former Brown University blueliner skated for the Knuckles Friday and played for the Suns Saturday.
One other note: Some Suns fans were astonished when the handle of Thomson’s goalie stick got caught in the area between the foot and blade of teammate Ryan Kolquist’s skate just to the right of the Suns goal early in the second period Friday.
Kolquist had a heckuva time dislodging the stick from his skate. While Kolquist tangled with his dilemma, Thomson grabbed Kolquist’s stick while play continued and actually made a save or two before the whistle finally blew.
With their two wins, Farrelly’s squad took a 9-7 lead in the 16-game series and crept ahead 106-98 in goals scored. The Suns next play Feb. 8-9 against the Pioneers at Park City, Utah, and will host New York St. Nicks on Feb. 15-16.
Check today’s Express Web site for summaries from the Moose Knuckles series and updated Suns season statistics.
Suns Hockey Summary
moose knuckles 3, suns 2
FRIday, JANUARY 25
|NE Moose Knuckles
|Sun Valley Suns
FIRST PERIOD—(1) Moose Knuckles, Pierce Norton (Jeff Norton, Chris Warrington), 11:14.
SECOND PERIOD—(2) Moose Knuckles, Mark Murphy (Pierce Norton), 14:32, shorthanded goal. (3) SV, Bryan O’Connell 22 (Ryan Enrico, Jon Duval), 19:30.
THIRD PERIOD—(4) Moose Knuckles, Mike McCarthy (Matt McCarthy), 0:54. (5) SV, Duval 7 (Eric Demment, Enrico), 16:47, power play goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Moose Knuckles 11-20-12 for 43; Sun Valley 9-14-15 for 38.
GOALIES—Moose Knuckles, Bobby Farrelly (first 2 periods, 22 saves) and Ryan Simpson (3rd period, 14 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (40 saves, 1-2-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Chris Benson (referee), John Heinrich and Mike Punnett (linesmen).
NOTES—The Suns used a three-official system for the first time in several years and it seemed to be a positive change. Suns coach Steve Morcone said, “Three officials seems to make the flow of the game better.”……Moose Knuckles defenseman Chris Warrington was making his second visit back to Sun Valley since leaving the area early in the 2009-10 hockey season to get married in New England. Warrington played seven seasons for the Suns with 39 goals and 93 assists.. He changed jerseys and played for the Suns Saturday night, reuniting on the blue line with Eric Demment…….Moose Knuckles defenseman Chris Nelson, 43, played 144 career games for the University of Wisconsin from 1988-92. He was a sophomore blueliner when the Badgers won the 1990 NCAA Division 1 tournament championship. Nelson started skating in Hanover, N.H. at the age of three. His parents worked at Dartmouth College. When his parents moved to southern California for teaching jobs at UCLA, Nelson kept skating and went to prep school in Wisconsin. After playing college hockey there, he played seven years in the AHL, IHL, WCHL and ECHL at stops like Utica, Erie, Raleigh, Fresno and Tacoma, all the time trying to realize his goal of becoming an African-American skater in the National Hockey League. He played roller hockey at an international level from 1994-2004 and also worked in films, television and commercials in the Los Angeles area, including an appearance on “Baywatch.” He has handled VIPs and celebrities in his job greeting the public at the W Hotel in Hollywood…..Suns forward lines were Ryan Enrico-Jon Duval-Bryan O’Connell, Jackson Morgus-Charles Friedman-Matt Ward, Ryan Kolquist-Ryan McDonald-Blake King, Rob Morgus-Chad Levitan-Doug Yeates. Defensemen were Ivars Muzis, Eric Demment, Bryan Winkler, Trevor Thomas and Kris Webster in his first game of the season……Moose Knuckles lines were Matt McCarthy-Greg McCarthy-Mike McCarthy, co-captain Jeff Norton-John Manley-Ryan Thonrton, Mark Murphy-co-captain Bill Kelleher, Pierce Norton. Defensemen were co-captain Scott Shaunessy, Rylan Burns, Gerry Burke, Chris Warrington and Chris Nelson…….Professional golf caddie John Burke, 62, the Suns assistant coach, enjoyed a solid payday with his 31-year-old pro golfer Chez Reavie of Kansas during the $6.1 million Farmers Insurance Open PGA tournament Jan. 24-28 at Torrey Pines near San Diego. Reavie, a Wichita native and resident of Scottsdale, Az. who competed for Arizona State, made the cut and ended up tied for 21st place for $61,000 with scores of 71-70-74-68 for 5-under-par 283. On his final round Reavie had 6 birdies, 2 bogeys and 10 pars, and birdied 16-17-18 to finish a 4-under-par final round. Tiger Woods captured his 75th PGA win and $1,098,000 with scores of 68-65-69-72 for 14-under-par 274..…..Leading the Moose Knuckles and wearing the unique No. 899 jersey was Jeff Norton, 47, a 6-2, 200-pound Massachusetts native who played 797 NHL games from 1987-2002 for eight different teams, most prominently the New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers. Norton played three years at the University of Michigan from 1984-87 and was a member of the U.S. Olympic hockey team at Calgary in 1988.…….Returning for the Moose Knuckles this year was Billy Kelleher from North Reading, Mass., a senior captain for Dartmouth College in 1996 and the Big Green's second-leading scorer in 1993. He is still Dartmouth's seventh-leading all-time assists man with 76 in 115 games..……Gutter Snipes goalie Bobby Farrelly, 54, who lives north of Ketchum, comes from Cumberland, R.I. and went to RPI on a hockey scholarship. He and his older brother Peter made their first feature film, "Dumb and Dumber," in 1994 and have since made movies like "There's Something About Mary," "Kingpin," "Shallow Hal," “Hall Pass,” and "Fever Pitch."….. Other notable Moose Knuckles (formerly the East Coast Gutter Snipes and South Shore Stumpgrinders) included Scott Shaunessy and Jack Smith…..Boston University’s Shaunessy, 49, is a 6-4, 210-pounder from Reading, Mass. who played 152 games for the Terriers from 1983-87 with 19 goals and 72 assists. He had a cup of coffee with the NHL Quebec Nordiques and skated in the minor leagues until 1999, all together playing 9 years in the pros.…….Moose Knuckles forward Mark Murphy staked the Knuckles to a 2-0 lead with a shorthanded goal late in the second period. Murphy, 36, played 138 games with 29 goals and 76 assists for Farrelly’s school RPI from 1995-99. He also played eight seasons in the AHL from 1999-2006, and also six season in Europe at places like Helsinki and Augsburg and in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL).
MOOSE KNUCKLES 8, suns 1
SATURDay, JANUARY 26
|NE Moose Knuckles
|Sun Valley Suns
FIRST PERIOD—(1) Moose Knuckles, Pierce Norton (Mark Murphy, Scott Shaunessy), 9:37. (2) Moose Knuckles, Matt McCarthy (Shaunessy), 12:12. (3) SV, Jackson Morgus 3 (Jamie Ellison, Rob Morgus), 15:41. (4) Moose Knuckles, Pierce Norton (Shaunessy), 18:24.
SECOND PERIOD—(5) Moose Knuckles, Steve King (Pierce Norton), 12:51.
THIRD PERIOD—(6) Moose Knuckles, Jared Melillo (Rylan Burns, Jeff Norton), 2:46, power play goal. (7) Moose Knuckles, Peter Smith (Jeff Norton), 5:47. (8) Moose Knuckles, Dave Cavanagh (Melillo, King), 7:47. (9) Moose Knuckles, Pierce Norton (unassisted), 10:51, hat trick goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Moose Knuckles 10-17-15 for 42; Sun Valley 12-9-8 for 29.
GOALIES—Moose Knuckles, Bobby Farrelly (1st period, 11 saves) and Ryan Simpson (final two periods, 17 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (34 saves, 1-3-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Dave Patrie (referee), Eric Wingard and Tyler Hanson (linesmen).
NOTES—Leading the weekend scoring with his hat trick tonight was Pierce Norton (4 goals, 2 assists for 6 points). Norton, 27, a 6-2, 200-pounder from South Boston, came out of Thayer Academy and played 4 years and 135 games for Providence College from 2005-09, with 29 goals and 30 assists for 59 points. He skated in the ECHL and IHL minor leagues from 2009-11…..The three Suns forward lines were Jackson Morgus-Rob Morgus-Doug Yeates, Ryan Enrico-Jon Duval-Bryan O’Connell, Ryan McDonald-Jamie Ellison-Chad Levitan. Matt Ward got skating time as well. Defensemen were Kris Webster, Eric Demment, Ivars Muzis, Bryan Winkler, Trevor Thomas and Chris Warrington. …..The Moose Knuckles forward lines were Jeff Norton-Rob Flynn-Peter Smith, Steve King-Jared Melillo-Ryan Thornton, Mark Murphy-Bill Kelleher-Pierce Norton, Dave Maimaron-Mike McCarthy-Greg McCarthy. Moose Knuckles defenders included Scott Shaunessy, Chris Nelson, Gerry Burke, Rylan Burns……..The Moose Knuckles had a roster of 27 players, 20 from Massachusetts and three from Rhode Island…..There was only one Canadian, Rylan Burns from Jasper, Alberta and Amherst College…..Other notable Moose Knuckles included the McCarthys from Medfield, Mass. Matt McCarthy, 30, a 6-0, 210-pounder, skated for Tufts University and was the first-ever Jumbo ice hockey player to make the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) first team. That was in 2006 when, as a senior, he scored 18 goals (8 on the power play) in 23 games. He played 3 years in Europe…..Mike McCarthy, 28, tallied 24 goals in 77 games at New York State’s Hobart College from 2003-07, then played 2 years in Holland….Greg McCarthy, 27, played 58 games at Tufts University with 30 goals from 2005-08, then played a year in Holland……Moose Knuckles defenseman Gerry Burke became an Internet celebrity when he caught a foul ball in his beer cup while watching a major league baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres at Fenway Park. After catching the ball, Burke immediately stood up, raised his beer cup to the crowd and drank from it, thus receiving the crowd’s adulation for a job well done. Burke, 30, from Milton, Mass., came out of the Phillips Exeter hockey program and played 127 games from 2001-05 at Brown University in Providence, R.I. The 6-4, 225-pounder then played in the ECHL for the Toledo Storm, where he enjoyed his best pro season with 8 goals and 26 assists plus 100 penalty minutes in 72 games of 2006-07. He moved onto the Las Vegas Wranglers, where in the 2008 playoffs Burke played 21 games with 7 points….. Returning to Idaho on the Moose Knuckles blueline was a part of Rhode Island hockey royalty, David Cavanagh, 26, of Warwick. The 6-1, 205-pounder out of Salisbury School and Toll Gate High School, twice an All-State high school defenseman, skated for Providence College. He is one of nine children of Joe Cavanagh, the great Harvard University forward of the 1960s and a U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer who for years has been a prominent attorney in New England…..