Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Moose stay a step ahead of Suns in 4-3, 6-4 sweep

Marvelous hockey series to start New Year

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley’s Drew Punnett (right) skates the puck up ice against the Jackson Hole Moose in Friday night’s game, as Suns captain Ryan Enrico backs him up. Photo by Willy Cook

     It was terrific hockey, two teams leaving it all on the ice before a packed holiday house.

     Yet the most telling statistic at the end of last weekend’s two-game series at Sun Valley Skating Center was this:

     The Sun Valley Suns and Jackson Hole Moose men’s hockey teams played four games and 240 minutes this season—and the Suns never led at any point in the series.

     Deep and determined with a solid core of veterans, the unbeaten Moose posted 4-3 and 6-4 victories over an equally determined group of Suns skaters who are still trying to mesh.

     The Moose (10-0, 60-24 goals-against) returned 15 veterans including both goaltenders from last winter’s 18-7 season and maintained their recent mastery over the Suns (2-4).

     Suns coach Steve Morcone said, “Our guys wanted to win so badly. They left it all on the ice and really, really worked hard. They just responded very well to a good Jackson team. I was super proud of them, all weekend long.

     “We just didn’t finish.”

     Chief Moose hero was 33-year-old goaltender Nick Krauss, the former St. Olaf College netminder from Naperville, Ill. who made an astounding 60 saves in Friday’s 4-3 Moose win. He stopped 29 of 30 Suns shots in the third period alone.

     Although the Suns were on the power play for nearly 12 minutes of the third period—beating Krauss just once on a deflection—the winning goal came with 54 seconds left in a 3-3 tie game after a neutral zone turnover.

     Scoring the goal was Vail (Co.) Junior Hockey product Austin Chow, Colorado’s top high school hockey player with 43 goals in 2005 leading the Battle Mountain Huskies from Edwards to a 22-1 mark and a state runner-up trophy.

     Chow played college club hockey at Princeton and led the Moose with four goals helping Jackson sweep the Suns 7-3 and 5-1 in Wyoming Dec. 13-14. He broke down ice with his high school teammate Alex Biegler on a two-on-one and slipped the puck past Suns goalie Ryan Thomson.

     “We had all the momentum and were pressing, then had the neutral zone turnover,” said Morcone. “You make one mistake against a quality team like the Moose and the puck is in the back of your net.

     “It seemed like we won every battle Friday and lost the war. That was pretty much the case the whole weekend.”

     Former Idaho Junior Steelhead Justin Videen, 37-year-old former Idaho Steelhead pro Marty Flichel and first-line center and chief Suns fist-bumper Derek Grimes (power play) scored for the Suns—Grimes credited with the deflection on a powerful Greg Chapman shot from the point that beat Krauss.

     “Marty, Justin and Greg were three of the best players on the ice for us all weekend,” Morcone said. “Marty is just a rock out there, a calm, cool and collected player.”

     Goalie Dan Amborski (31 saves) was nearly as good between the pipes for Jackson Hole on Saturday night in a game that was essentially decided on quick Moose goals on the first shifts of the first and third periods.

     Moose left wing Biegler scored 32 seconds into the game, from linemates Chow and Brian Upesleja (“bad turnover,” said Morcone), and Chow walked in alone just nine seconds into the third period turning a 3-3 game into a 4-3 Moose lead (“we lost the draw, didn’t come out fired up,” Morcone said).

     “Make a mistake, and bingo, bingo,” lamented Morcone.

     Suns goal scorers were Bryan O’Connell (shorthanded), captain Ryan Enrico, Jackson Morgus and Videen (shorthanded in the third period).

     Videen’s goal was a beauty, launched just inside the far post after he picked up a turnover and went in alone against Amborski.

     “Both their goalies made it look easy. They weren’t giving up rebounds. Ryan (Thomson, who played both games while fighting illness) gave up some rebounds and would have liked to have a couple of shots back. But he played well and kept us in the games,” Morcone said.

     Although the Suns passed the puck well on the power play, their production in man-advantage situations (1-for-15 weekend, 2-for-30 season) remained a worry against the Moose.

     “Our biggest downfall all weekend was the power play. We look like All-Stars passing the puck around, but we just weren’t getting guys in front of the net. Taylor Rothgeb gave us a good presence there Saturday, but we didn’t have the back-up presence to help him out,” said Morcone.

     Unfortunately, Suns center Chad Levitan injured his right knee during the hard-fought third period Saturday and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

     The Moose lead the 14-year series 37-20-1, including a 10-2 mark in the last 12 games over three seasons played between the teams. Friday’s 4-3 Moose win was the 16th one-goal outcome in a 58-game rivalry.

     Next: The Suns entertain Tri-Cities Hockey Source from Washington State for a two-game series Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10-11 on resort ice. Opening faceoffs are at 7 p.m.

     Suns defenseman Chapman, last weekend’s “George Jacket” winner, won’t play Friday because of his game misconduct in a fight with Jackson Hole’s Spencer Morton Saturday.

     Forward Jackson Morgus is returning to San Francisco and Drew Punnett will be back with the Connecticut Yankees after both of the former SVYH skaters helped the Suns considerably over the holiday.

     “We’ve got good teams coming here for the rest of the year,” said Morcone, who coaches with John Burke.

     He added, “It just seems like every weekend so far, our line-up has been adjusted with new guys playing.”


Future Suns, Suns outcome

     The Suns skated with the Future Suns Wednesday, Jan. 1 in an exhibition game that raised money for Sun Valley Youth Hockey. Former Suns co-captain Jon Duval coached the Suns, and Tim Jeneson guided the Future Suns.

      Scoring two goals in each period, the Suns prevailed 6-4.

     John Stevens (2 goals), David Dredge, Johnny Miller, Doug Yeates and Jackson Morgus (empty netter with 13 seconds left) scored for the Suns.

     Scoring for the Futures were Gus Conrad (2), Maddie Miller and Drew Punnett, assists to Riley Sibbach (2), Miller (2), Liam Jablonski, Punnett and Doug King.

     Also skating for the Futures were Niels McMahon, Parker Weeks, Tanner Dredge, Karel Kaiser, Drew Barsch, Tommy Heinrich, Charlie Evans and Jimmy Hague.

     Minding the net for the Suns were Thomson (13 shots, 11 saves) and James Moskos (14 shots, 12 saves). Futures goalie Cody Levitan stopped 25 of the 31 Suns shots.



Suns Hockey Summary


moose 4, suns 3

FRIday, january 3

Jackson Hole Moose 1 2 1 4
Sun Valley Suns 1 1 1 3

FIRST PERIOD—(1) Jackson Hole, Luke Smith (Nick Dolentz, Jeff Zelazoski), 5:45. (2) SV, Justin Videen 1 (Marty Flichel), 18:02.

SECOND PERIOD—(3) Jackson Hole, Smith (Dolentz), 1:58. (4) Jackson Hole, Ryan Tufte (Sean Hannafin), 7:10. (5) SV, Flichel 2 (Drew Punnett), 18:39.

THIRD PERIOD—(6) SV, Derek Grimes 2 (Greg Chapman), 16:52, power play goal. (7) Jackson Hole, Austin Chow (Alex Biegler), 19:06, game-winning goal.

SHOTS ON GOAL—Jackson Hole 15-15-8 for 38; Sun Valley 17-16-30 for 63.

GOALIES—Jackson Hole, Nick Krauss (60 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (35 saves, 2-3-0 record).

HITS—Jackson Hole 10-9-6 for 25; Sun Valley 13-11-9 for 33.

OFFICIALS—Matt Stone (referee), Bobby Noyes and Dave Patrie (linesmen).

NOTES—Suns forward lines were Ryan Enrico-Derek Grimes-Bryan O’Connell, Taylor Rothgeb-Marty Flichel-Justin Videen, Spencer Brendel-Chad Levitan-Jackson Morgus, with John Stevens filling in at forward. Defensemen were Ivars Muzis, Zak Greenawalt, Trevor Thomas, Greg Chapman, Alex Redmond and Drew Punnett….Suns back-up goalie was James Moskos, 35, the former Suns netminder who played three Suns seasons here from 2001-04 with a 17-6-0 record and 4.27 goals-against. Since 2010 Moskos has been an English teacher at Tilton School, a private New Hampshire secondary school 40 miles from Manchester that has 230 day and boarding students. Moskos helps coach the women’s ice hockey team at the 168-year-old prep school. He was out West for a skiing trip over the Christmas holiday…..Jackson Hole forward lines were Spencer Morton-Bryan Hannafin-Sean Hannafin, Alex Biegler-Austin Chow-Brian Upesleja, Nick Dolentz-Luke Smith-Jeff Zelazoski. Defensemen were Ryan Tufte-Ryan Krumblis, James Dudley, Miller Resor and Jake Bates…….Suns goalie Ryan Thomson kept his team in the game with a couple of sparkling saves on a Moose 5-on-3 power play in the second period. He stopped Alex Biegler with his chest and Austin Chow with his right arm to prevent the lead from growing from 3-1 to 4-1. The Suns had picked up three minor penalties in just 35 seconds to set up the 5-on-3……In the 30-shot Suns third period assault, Drew Punnett and Marty Flichel served up the best chances for the home team, but goalie Krauss was the equal of virtually everything that Sun Valley threw at him. Krauss stopped Flichel with his glove and then with his left skate, both shots coming from close range on the lengthy Suns man-advantage situations…..On an unbeaten roll, the Moose brought a full team to Sun Valley on the heels of their 4-3 and 4-1 home wins over the Bozeman (Mt.) Stingers Dec. 27-28, each game played before an estimated 1,300 Christmas holiday spectators at Jackson Hole’s Snow King Center…..The Suns were 1-for-10 on the power play, including 1-for-7 in the third period…..Moose goalie Krauss, 33, had a 31-17-5 record minding the net for St. Olaf (Minn.) College from 2007-11. He beat the Suns 6-5 in a shootout Dec. 7, 2012 at Snow King Center…. Chow, a product of the Vail (Colo.) Junior Hockey program, was Colorado’s top high school hockey player with 43 goals in 2005 leading the Battle Mountain Huskies from Edwards to a 22-1 record and the state runner-up trophy. He was also a star for the Princeton University Tigers club hockey team. Chow led the Moose with 4 goals during the Suns visit to Wyoming Dec. 13-14,  including a hat trick in the 5-1 Saturday night victory with Krauss (25 saves) in the net.





Jackson Hole Moose 2 1 3 6
Sun Valley Suns 1 2 1 4

FIRST PERIOD—(1) Jackson Hole, Alex Biegler (Austin Chow, Brian Upesleja), 0:32. (2) Jackson Hole, Spencer Morton (Bryan Hannafin, Sean Hannafin), 9:50. (3) SV, Bryan O’Connell 3 (Greg Chapman), 18:19, shorthanded goal.

SECOND PERIOD—(4) Jackson Hole, Biegler (Upesleja), 4:12. (5) SV, Jackson Morgus 4 (Drew Punnett, John Stevens), 7:40. (6) SV, Ryan Enrico 4 (O’Connell, Chapman), 10:32.

THIRD PERIOD—(7) Jackson Hole, Chow (Jake Bates), 0:09. (8) Jackson Hole, Upesleja (Chow), 3:17, power play goal. (9) SV, Justin Videen 2 (unassisted), 8:12, shorthanded goal. (10) Jackson Hole, Chow (unassisted), 19:34, empty net goal.

SHOTS ON GOAL—Jackson Hole 11-9-11 for 31; Sun Valley 13-11-11 for 35.

GOALIES—Jackson Hole, Dan Amborski (31 saves); Sun Valley, Ryan Thomson (24 saves, 5 goals, 2-4-0 record).

HITS—Jackson Hole 11-11-14 for 36; Sun Valley 13-16-20 for 49.

FACEOFFS WON—Jackson Hole 10-11-11 for 32; Sun Valley 12-15-12 for 39 (hits and faceoffs calculated by Kurt Wenzell).

OFFICIALS—Matt Stone (referee), Dave Patrie and John Heinrich (linesmen).

NOTES—Two Suns players suffered injuries as the game heated up in the second and third periods. Six minutes after he rushed down the left wing and scooped home a wrist shot cutting the Moose lead to 3-2 in the second period, Jackson Morgus left the ice with a cut directly across the bridge of his nose that caused quite a bit of bleeding. Suns coach Steve Morcone said that Morgus wanted to wear a caged helmet and return for the third period, but team Dr. Tony Buoncristiani advised against it, saying Morgus might be also suffering symptoms of a concussion……A more serious injury happened with 4:09 remaining in the game and the Suns pressing hard in an attempt to erase their 5-4 deficit. Fourth-year center Chad Levitan made a determined chase to stop Jackson Hole’s Sean Hannifan near the Suns blue line, as the Moose counter-attacked with their first forward line. Morcone said the speedy Levitan caught Hannifan from behind and both players went into the boards, Levitan awkwardly. Levitan left the ice with a season-ending knee injury. Morcone said, “Chad is a difference-maker for us with his speed, once he gets those legs going. We’ll miss him.”……..This weekend’s “George Jacket” was awarded to former Idaho Junior Steelheads captain Greg Chapman, who played so well on the blueline against the Moose. Chapman was best known tonight for fighting with Moose wing Spencer Morton midway through the third period of the 5-4 game. Chapman retaliated when Suns goalie Ryan Thomson was tripped up and fell after roaming to the left of the crease, and former Univ. of Vermont skater Morton was in the area. Both Chapman and Morton were given the gate by referee Matt Stone from Idaho Falls. Earlier, Jackson Hole’s Jeff Zelazoski was given a game misconduct after an high sticking altercation with Suns forward Spencer Brendel, who remained in the game……Coach Morcone liked the contributions of the younger Suns players like Sun Valley Youth Hockey product Brendel. The coach said, “It didn’t show on the scoresheet, but Spencer gave it everything he had when he was out on the ice, and he gave us quality minutes.”……Suns forward lines were Ryan Enrico-Derek Grimes-Bryan O’Connell, Justin Videen-Marty Flichel-Taylor Rothgeb, Spencer Brendel-Chad Levitan-Johnny Miller, Jackson Morgus-John Stevens-Drew Punnett. Defensemen were Ivars Muzis, Alex Redmond, Greg Chapman, Zak Greenawalt and Trevor Thomas….Suns back-up goalie was Bobby Farrelly…..Weekend-high scorer was Austin Chow with 3 goals and 2 assists….The Suns did a much better job in the scoring and shooting department as compared to their season-opening visit to Wyoming. In that series, the Moose out-shot Sun Valley 82-50 for the weekend and out-pointed the visitors 31-11. This weekend, the Suns out-shot the Moose 98-69, and the Moose out-pointed the Suns by just a 22-15 margin……But, for four games on the power play, Sun Valley was 2-for-25 against the Moose, while Jackson Hole 5-for-21….For the season, the Suns now have more shorthanded goals (5) than power-play goals (2). Last season, over 22 games, the Suns were 20-for-85 (24%) on the power play (2-for-30, 6% in 6 games this season) and totaled only 4 shorthanded goals for the entire 2012-13 campaign……For the Moose series, the Suns were expecting to welcome a new skater, 29-year-old Mike Curry, a 6-4, 215-pound right wing who played for University of Minnesota-Duluth from 2004-08. Bad weather delayed Curry’s arrival, however. He showed up just before the Saturday night buzzer and joined the team in the locker room for the “George Jacket” presentation. Curry, from Eagle River, Alaska, won the Best Plus-Minus Award for the UMD Bulldogs as a junior in 2007. Before college, he skated for Sioux City in the USHL.

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