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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of December 24 - 30, 2002


Forti’s penalty shot gives Suns a sweep

Seattle Indians go down 5-2, 4-3

Express Staff Writer

The Seattle Indians didn’t like it.

Many Sun Valley Suns diehard fans even thought it was a bad call Saturday at the end of a fine hockey game at Sun Valley Skating Center.

A referee giving a penalty shot in overtime is a radical measure, deserving of a flagrant foul, and there was a big question whether the Indians purposely dislodged the net when goalie Ian Witucki was under withering Suns pressure in Saturday’s overtime.

Tom Forti, Suns center, celebrates after scoring his team’s fourth goal in Friday’s 5-2 Suns win over Seattle. Forti was a hero again Saturday with the game winner, a penalty shot. Express photo by Willy Cook

Did Suns center Tom Forti pick up the loose puck and score in the mad scramble? Did the net come loose first? If it did, was it intentional?

There was a bunch of big men with hockey sticks and gnarly looks waiting for an answer.

In all the confusion, referee Scott Sivulich decided to settle the matter with a penalty shot. He sent Forti to the red line.

Whatever your opinion, Forti still had to make the penalty shot for the Suns to win the game and sweep the two-game series with the Indians.

He did.

Forti weaved toward the net. Goalie Witucki came out. Not waiting too long and not shooting too early, Forti ripped a low wrist shot that went from his stick to the back of the net in a flash and gave the Suns a 4-3 triumph.

It was the third OT in the last six games between the two rivals, the Suns winning twice.

The weekend hero, Forti also scored two goals in Sun Valley’s 5-2 victory Friday night. The unsung hero was Suns defenseman Paul Baranzelli, who is always looking to score.

Baranzelli scored the eventual winner Friday, snapping a 2-2 tie with a third-period tally that opened the floodgates and prompted three Suns goals in just 87 seconds. On Saturday, his goal with 3:16 left in regulation sent it into sudden-death overtime.

Suns player/coach Chris Benson was generally pleased with his team’s seventh straight home win Saturday.

He said, "Last night we took it to them in the third period. Tonight we were a little loose on defense and they scored twice in the third period. But we showed a lot of character coming back and winning in overtime."

As always Seattle was a tough opponent—a senior men’s franchise in its 43rd season. The Suns, who lead the 16-game series between the two teams 11-4-1, are in their 28th hockey campaign.

Good things usually happen when Suns forwards are forechecking and that’s what fueled Friday’s spurt.

A bang-bang passing play between Luke Smith, John Miller and Baranzelli made it 3-2 Suns. Forti finished a great individual forechecking play by whipping the fourth goal home from the slot. Vilnis Nikolaisons rebounded a John Stevens shot, 5-2.

Suns goalie Matt Gershater (6-1-0) made 20 saves. The Suns outshot the Indians 39-22 Friday night.

It was another fast, close-checking game Saturday. Defenseman Kit Hughes tallied the first Suns goal and rookie forward Matt O’Hare from Harvard made it 2-1 Suns after two periods with his first Suns goal.

A long Indians shot by Bryan Gowan that got behind Suns goalie James Moskos and Seattle’s second power-play goal of the game put the Suns behind the eight ball 3-2 as the third period ticked away.

John Stevens nearly broke Sun Valley’s four-game, 0-for-19 power play drought with a shot from the point that hit Nikolaisons and dribbled tantalizingly past the post with about six minutes left in the third.

Things didn’t look good for the Suns. They were having a hard time getting the puck out of their zone.

Then, Stevens carried the puck down the middle of the ice with such deceptive speed that a wake opened up and he skated untouched into the Seattle zone. About 25 feet away Stevens whipped a wrist shot that goalie Witucki stopped with his stick.

Baranzelli, trailing the play on the left wing side, collected the rebound and didn’t waste any time putting it into the corner for a 3-3 tie.

It set the stage for Forti’s OT heroics, set up by another unsung Suns hero, Nikolaisons. After getting hammered along the corner boards, Vilnis bounced away, retrieved the puck, kept it in and set up the mad scramble that caused the penalty shot.

The Suns (8-2) continue three consecutive weekends of home ice action when the Trail (B.C., Canada) Smoke Eaters arrive for two games Friday and Saturday, Jan. 31-Feb. 1. Opening faceoffs are at 7 p.m.

Benson said, "Trail won their provincial championships last year. They play Seattle in their league." It will be the first visit of the Smoke Eaters to the Sun Valley sheet.

Check the Express web site for a complete summary of last weekend’s games and current Suns season stats.


Suns 5, Indians 2

Seattle Indians 0 2 0 2
Sun Valley Suns 1 1 3 5

FIRST PERIOD—(1) SV, Tom Forti 4 (Paul Baranzelli, Mike Selhay), 14:48.

SECOND PERIOD—(2) SV, Luke Smith 10 (unassisted), 1:38. (3) Seat, Doug Kirton (Matt Mong), 13:16. (4) Seat, Doug Bosse (Kirton, Sean Sanderson), 15:46.

THIRD PERIOD—(5) SV, Baranzelli 7 (Smith, John Miller), 5:00. (6) SV, Forti 5 (unassisted), 5:53. (7) SV, Vilnis Nikolaisons 7 (John Stevens, Forti), 6:27.

SHOTS ON GOAL—For Seattle 7-9-6 for 22; for Sun Valley 10-17-12 for 39.

GOALIES—Seattle, Ian Witucki (34 saves); SV, Matt Gershater (20 saves, 6-1-0 season record).

OFFICIALS—Referee, Bobby Noyes; linesmen, Curtis Martin and John Heinrich.

NOTES—Suns first two forward lines were Vilnis Nikolaisons-Tom Forti-John Stevens and Frank Salvoni-Luke Smith-John Miller with Caleb Baukol, Scott Carmack, Perry Smiley, Matt O’Hare and Rohan Verplank rotating on a third line. Defensemen were Ivars Muzis, Paul Baranzelli, Eric Demment, Kit Hughes, Ben Niemela and Mike Selhay….The Jackson Hole Moose (11-5) enjoyed a huge two-game sweep of the favored St. Nick’s Hockey Club from New York City Jan. 17-18 at Snow King Center. The Moose rallied from a 2-0 deficit and won 8-4 Friday night, then the Moose beat reigning U.S. Senior Elite champions St. Nick’s 6-4 Saturday.



Suns 4, Indians 3 (OT)

Seattle Indians 1 0 2 0 3
Sun Valley Suns 1 1 1 1 4

FIRST PERIOD—(1) SV, Kit Hughes 2 (Forti), 14:13. (2) Seat, Bryan Gowan (Kirton), 19:27, power play goal.

SECOND PERIOD—(3) SV, Matt O’Hare 1 (Hughes, Eric Demment), 12:50.

THIRD PERIOD—(4) Seat, Gowan (Kirton, Mong), 1:46. (5) Seat, Sanderson (Cory Woodford), 12:56, power play goal. (6) SV, Baranzelli 8 (Stevens, Selhay), 16:44.

OVERTIME (5 minutes)—(6) SV, Forti 6 (unassisted), 1:41, penalty shot and game-winning goal.

SHOTS ON GOAL—For Seattle 9-11-10-1 for 31; for Sun Valley 12-13-11-2 for 38.

GOALIES—Seattle, Ian Witucki (34 saves); SV, James Moskos (28 saves, 1-1-0 season record).

OFFICIALS—Referee, Scott Sivulich; linesmen, Richard Winkler and Eric Wingard.

NOTES—Paul Baranzelli, who sent the game into overtime with his 8th goal, is tied with Ivars Muzis for eighth place on the all-time goal scoring list for Suns defensemen with 28 apiece. Baranzelli scored 20 goals last winter in his first Suns season….Eighth-year Suns forward John Stevens (79-125 for 204) has gone over the 200-point mark for his Suns career and stands at 15th on the all-time list, while Vilnis Nikolaisons (80-135 for 215), in only his fifth season, needs 12 more points to crack the Suns all-time top ten….The third period was a tension-packed jumble of near-misses and excellent defensive plays. The Suns penalty killers—Luke Smith, John Miller, Tom Forti and John Stevens—stuffed the first Indians power play, with Smith getting off the best shot, shorthanded. Perry Smiley made a fine backchecking play to stop a potential Seattle break-in, then Indians goalie Ian Witucki robbed Eric Demment after more excellent forechecking by the Smith line. Moments later Demment got caught deep in the Suns offensive zone and had to skate furiously to get back and slash Seattle’s captain Doug Bosse. The Indians went on the power play and looked like they would come up empty again, but Indians defenseman Cody Woodford punched a slapshot that Suns goalie James Moskos stopped with his pad—but left the puck out to dry for Sean Sanderson to poke home for a 3-2 Seattle lead. After Baranzelli’s game-tying goal, the Suns had one final chance to win in regulation when Smith, Miller and Frank Salvoni jammed for a loose puck in the crease, but they couldn’t pull the trigger….Suns player/coach Chris Benson, who sat out his third straight game with a groin injury, went with his first two lines for the final five minutes of regulation….The Suns (1-1 OT this season, 3-0 OT last season) are now 23-20-19 in overtime in the team’s 28 seasons. Here’s an updated list of Suns game-winning OT goal scorers: Jamie Ellison 2, John Finnegan 2, Kurt Wenzell 2, Phil Hoene 2, Paul Cartmill 2, Luke Smith 1, Tom Forti 1, Brian Watts 1, Dale Johnson 1, Mark Broz 1, Pat Kearney 1, Rip Kirby 1, Terry Heneghan 1, Chas Riopel 1, Brian Saksa 1, Beets Johnson 1, Phil Hebert 1 and Sean O’Connell 1….The Suns (86-67 goals-against advantage) lead their 16-game series with Seattle 11-4-1 and now have won four straight.


2002-03 Sun Valley Suns
Season statistics

(8-2 overall: 7-1 home, 1-1 away)

as of January 29, 2003


Luke Smith 9 10 9 19 29.0
Tom Forti 8 6 9 15 0.0
Paul Baranzelli 10 8  6 14 15.0
John Stevens 10 5 9 14 10.0
Vilnis Nikolaisons 10 7 6 13 4.0
Eric Demment 9 4 8 12 23.0
Frank Salvoni 10 6 5 11 0.0
Scott Winkler 7 3 5 8 2.0
John Miller 8 2 6 8 11.0
Chris Benson 7 2 5 7 14.0
Ivars Muzis 10 2 3 5 26.0
Scott Carmack 8 2 2 4 11.0
Ben Stauffer 4 2 2 4 6.0
Kit Hughes 8 2 2 4 2.0
Mike Selhay 6 0 4 4 9.0
Matt O’Hare 8 1 1 2 0.0
Perry Smiley 9 0 2 2 2.0
Caleb Baukol 10 1 0 1 6.0
Matt Gershater 8 0 1 1 8.0
Rohan Verplank 8 0 1 1 6.0
Ben Niemela 10 0 0 0 13.0
Jamie Ellison 1 0 0 0 2.0
Kris Webster 2 0 0 0 0.0
James Moskos 3 0 0 0 0.0
David Stone 2 0 0 0 0.0



Matt Gershater    7 17 6-1-0 2.43
James Moskos 1.5 7 1-1-0 4.67
David Stone 1.5 7 1-0-0 4.67

Shots—Gershater 214, Moskos 64, Stone 55. Shutouts—0.



Opposition  7 15 8 1 31 3.1
Sun Valley  17 21 24 1 63 6.3



Two-goal games (10)—Luke Smith 2, John Stevens 2, Chris Benson 1, Vilnis Nikolaisons 1, Frank Salvoni 1, Eric Demment 1, Scott Winkler 1, John Miller 1, Tom Forti 1.

Hat tricks or more (3)—Luke Smith 1 (4 goals), Paul Baranzelli 1, Frank Salvoni 1.

Game-winning goals—Tom Forti 1.

Power play goals (8-35, 23%)—Eric Demment 2, Paul Baranzelli 1, John Stevens 1, Vilnis Nikolaisons 1, Chris Benson 1, Frank Salvoni 1, Ivars Muzis 1. Power play goals (opposition): 12-54, (22%).

Shorthanded goals (4)—Scott Winkler 2, Luke Smith 1, Vilnis Nikolaisons 1. Shorthanded goals (opposition): 3.

Season penalty minutes: SV 208, opponents 196.




Total record: 8-2

Record in 1-goal games: 1-1
Record in overtime: 1-1-0

Games scoring 9 or more goals: 3
Games scoring 7 or more goals: 3

December 20 (H) Boise Blades 3, Sun Valley 2 (OT)
December 21 (H) Sun Valley 6, Boise Blades 1
December 27 (H) Sun Valley 9, Portland Czechs 3
December 28 (H) Sun Valley 16, Portland Czechs 6
January 3 (H) Sun Valley 6, Richtone Painting 1
January 4 (H) Sun Valley 9, Richtone Painting 3
January 17 (A) Las Vegas Royals 7, Sun Valley 1
January 18 (A) Sun Valley 5, Las Vegas Royals 2
January 24 (H) Sun Valley 5, Seattle Indians 2
January 25 (H) Sun Valley 4, Seattle Indians 3 (OT)


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