Go ahead and call the 2012-13 edition of the Sun Valley Suns men’s hockey team many things, and its opponents certainly have, but “gritty,” “lots of heart,” “hard workers” and “stick to it” strike a chord.
Last weekend, the Suns needed two wins in their season-ending two-game series with the Bozeman (Mt.) Stingers to finish 11-11 and thus achieve a .500 finish to a demanding campaign. They got them with a determined team effort, 4-2 and 5-4 over the stubborn and physical Stingers.
Hockey players themselves prefer to use hockey references to illustrate style and circumstances, like for instance, when co-captain Jon Duval called Saturday’s pivotal plays “two Dino Ciccarelli-type goals from Taylor Rothgeb. Rothgeb’s second goal tied the game 3-3 after the Suns had trailed 2-0.
When you’re talking “heart,” you start with Suns assistant captain Ryan Thomson, the goalie, and co-captain Ryan Enrico, the relentless worker on the wing. As Duval says, Enrico will never give up the puck willingly, and of course Thomson never will allow the puck behind his back, if he has a choice or a chance.
Alertly skating back to the point to cover a vacated position, left wing Enrico scored the power-play goal that staked the Suns to a 4-3 lead after two periods Saturday night. Thomson was the rock between the pipes stopping 129 of 138 shots he faced over the last four games and 240 minutes.
The Suns, losers of six of seven after a demoralizing 12-3 loss to the superior New York St. Nicks Feb. 16, needed four wins to go from a 7-11 record to an 11-11 record.
The fact they got them was remarkable, considering a Suns team hadn’t finished a season with a four-game winning streak since one of the all-time best Suns squads, the 28-2 team of 2001-02, ended it season with five straight wins.
Providing the win was one of the newest Suns faces, steady defenseman Rob Morgus.
Morgus roped a 5-on-3 power play shot right along the ice midway through the third period of a 4-4 tie game. With Duval battling Stingers defenders in front of the net, Morgus’ shot deflected off a Stingers’ skate and into the net for the eventual game-winning goal.
Duval said, “We won the game in typical gritty Suns fashion—everybody diving for pucks, Ryan Thomson scrambling to keep everything out, just showing the kind of heart this team had. Ryan just played fantastic hockey the last four games, making huge saves when we needed them.
“This team definitely had a string of bad luck injuries from Day One of our first series against Jackson Hole. It was a frustrating and trying season in many ways. We no longer have the depth so that losing two guys to injuries doesn’t make a big difference. It does. So we reached out to Boise and the Salt Lake City teams to get players to help us in the games.
“I thought we did pretty well. Our schedule was tougher than last year. We aren’t playing for a championship of any kind, but the history of the Suns isn’t lost on us. The commitment of our core group of guys was there all the way.
“St. Nicks was what it was. Let’s face it, our skill level wasn’t comparable to them. We knew we had to win four games. It was a real goal for all of us. We bounced back and played our game. It was great to go out on a high note.”
Suns Hockey Summary
suns 4, stingers 2
FRIday, march 1
Sun Valley Suns2114
FIRST PERIOD—(1) Bozeman, Ryan D’Agostino (Russ Dissly, Chase D’Agostino), 11:42. (2) SV, Bryan O’Connell 25 (Chad Levitan), 15:04. (3) SV, Scott Winkler 7 (Chad Levitan), 18:49, shorthanded goal.
SECOND PERIOD—(4) Bozeman, Pete Kamman (Ian Austiguy), 13:23. (5) SV, Scott Winkler 8 (O’Connell, Chad Levitan), 16:06.
THIRD PERIOD—(6) SV, Ryan Enrico 3 (Jon Duval, Jamie Ellison), 17:25.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Bozeman 10-8-7 for 25; Sun Valley 9-17-12 for 38.
GOALIES—Bozeman, Taylor D’Agostino (34 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (23 saves, 5-6-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Chris Benson (referee), Dave Patrie and Eric Wingard (linesmen).
NOTES—In the view of Suns co-captain Jon Duval, first-year Suns forward Doug Yeates was the team’s “Rookie of the Year.” Yeates played 17 games with 3 goals and 11 assists to become the fifth-ranked scorer this season. Duval said, “Doug played nearly every position for us. His ability to get into the passing lanes and his game sense made him a huge addition to the Suns.”….Stingers forward Justin Cook, who helped bring Bozeman to Sun Valley for the season-ending games this weekend, played 4 games with 1 goal and 3 assists for the Suns in the 2004-05 season. In that season Cook was a 23-year-old from Hamilton, N.Y. and St. Anselm (N.H.) College……Stingers 5-11, 210-pound goalie Taylor D’Agostino played for Lake Forest College last winter…..Bozeman defenseman Pete Kamman played on the 2000 ACHA national championship club hockey team for Miami (Ohio) University…And Bozeman’s 6-2, 200-pound defenseman Russ Dissly, like many of the Stingers from Bozeman, skated for Salem State in 2008…..Tonight’s game featured action that was very physical, “chippy,” in Duval’s words. He said Bozeman “got under our skin.” Still, there were only 18 penalty minutes whistled…..The top Suns penalty minutes player, Trevor Thomas, sat the contest out with a game misconduct drawn Feb. 23 in the 3-1 Suns win over Hockey Source HC from Kennewick, Wash.
suns 5, stingers 4
saturday, march 2
Sun Valley Suns1315
FIRST PERIOD—(1) Bozeman,. Justin Cook (Ian Austiguy), 3:53. (2) Bozeman, John Gleason (John Despain, Pete Kamman), 10:44, power play goal. (3) SV, Jackson Morgus 5 (Sinjin Thomas, Charles Friedman), 16:53.
SECOND PERIOD—(4) SV, Taylor Rothgeb 1 (Jon Duval), 1:00. (5) Bozeman, Russ Dissly (Ty Schindler, Despain), 3:58, power play goal. (6) SV, Rothgeb 2 (Ryan Enrico, Bryan Winkler), 6:19. (7) SV, Enrico 4 (Rob Morgus, Rothgeb), 19:39, power play goal.
THIRD PERIOD—(8) Bozeman, Schindler (Pete McClean), 2:50. (9) SV, Rob Morgus 3 (Bryan O’Connell), 9:20, power play and game-winning goal.
SHOTS ON GOAL—Bozeman 12-13-7 for 32; Sun Valley 9-14-16 for 39.
GOALIES—Bozeman, Taylor D’Agostino (34 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (28 saves, 6-6-0 record).
OFFICIALS—Dave Patrie (referee), Eric Wingard and Mike Punnett (linesmen).
NOTES—Defenseman Ivars Muzis made a great play stopping a breakaway by Pete McClean of the Stingers with 3:54 left in the second period and the game tied 3-3…….Possibly the Suns were trying too hard, but the first nine minutes of the second period were ragged for the home team in the 4-4 game. Then the Suns got a needed break when the Stingers picked up back-to-back penalties for high sticking and tripping, which set up a 5-on-3 Suns power play for 30 seconds. On the second penalty Jon Duval of the Suns and Russ Dissly of the Stingers engaged in a pushing match that raised the blood pressure. The Suns started working the puck around and it came to Rob Morgus on the point in the middle of the ice. He whipped a shot right along the ice that deflected off Dissly’s skate into the net, just as Duval battled in the crease to cause a distraction. Only 4 seconds remained on the 5-on-3 when the eventual game-winning goal was scored…..Goalie Ryan Thomson stopped a strong Dissly attack with 3:28 left…..The Stingers pulled goalie Taylor D’Agostino in favor of an extra attacker with 1:01 on the clock, but the Suns defense was steady in the face of the final threat…..Four of the nine goals tonight came on the power play, two for each team…..The Suns out-shot the Stingers 59-35 in the second and third periods this weekend……The Suns had 12 different players picking up either a goal or an assist in the two-game series…..Tonight’s Crash Ballou game stars were No. 1 Taylor Rothgeb, No. 2 Ryan Thomson and No. 3 Ryan Enrico……Rothgeb scored his first 2 goals of the season, and Thomson (74-38-0 in 118 Suns games) and Enrico wrapped up their 10th seasons with the Suns in fine style…..Bryan O’Connell (25 goals, 7 assists for 32 points) finished as the team’s leading scorer for the third straight year. “OC” has 68 goals and 35 assists for 103 points with 16 penalty minutes, tying Ryan McDonald (42-61 for 103) for 46th place all-time……Tenth-year wing Ryan Enrico is No. 8 on the all-time Suns list with 123 goals and 156 assists for 279 points……The other Suns co-captain with Enrico this year, seventh-year center Jon Duval, is nearing the 100-assist mark. Duval has 45 goals and 98 assists for 143 points…..Duval and Enrico largely shifted goals-assists roles this season. Duval enjoyed his best goals season with 10, surpassing his previous Suns best of 9 goals set in 2009-10. He had 18 assists to finish as the second-leading scorer for the season. Last season Duval had 4 goals and 17 assists. Enrico had 17 goals and 19 assists last season, and this year finished third in the scoring totals with 4 goals and 16 assists……It’s been 11 years since the Suns ended their season on the high note of a long winning streak, this one stretching four games through tonight. The 2001-02 Suns team that went 28-2 won five straight to end its season. Still on the Suns active roster from that successful team were Kris Webster, Scott Winkler, Jamie Ellison, John Miller, John Stevens and Ivars Muzis.