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Sun Valley Suns Articles:
Paper: Idaho Mountain Express
Author: Sports Desk

Suns renew rivalry with McCall's Mountaineers
Top-notch New Year's weekend hockey expected

The ante has been raised between the pipes—and hockey fans will be the beneficiaries.

McCall's Manchester Mountaineers are coming to Sun Valley Skating Center for a New Year's weekend hockey series with the Sun Valley Suns Friday and Saturday, Dec. 30-31.

Opening faceoffs are 7 p.m. for what could be one of the best series of the 2005-06 hockey season. Suns coach Chris Benson said, "McCall has proven over the last couple of years that they're a talented team."

The Mountaineers draw upon ex-Idaho Steelheads minor league players and usually form a veteran unit that knows how and when to score—and how to clamp down on defense.

McCall holds a 10-5-1 advantage in the two-year series and has won six of eight games played on Sun Valley ice—including 8-5 and 4-3 wins that ended last year's Suns season.

This year, Benson expects the Steelheads to have Blair Allison in the goal. Allison, 33, from Golden, B.C., Canada, is a 5-11, 195-pounder who tended the net for the University of Maine from 1993-96 and also for the Canadian National Team (going 22-5-2) in 1996-97.

Allison played goalie for the Boise-based Idaho Steelheads from 2001-05 and was also an assistant coach last winter.

Benson expects to counter with Ryan Thomson in the goal Friday and 27-year-old Colin Zulianello between the pipes Saturday. Zulianello, from Thunder Bay, Ont., played for Colorado College from 1997-2001 and also the Steelheads and Las Vegas Wranglers last winter.

The Suns coach expects to have all his players except for forward Paul Baranzelli. A few Rising Suns juniors/collegians like Blake Jenson and Joey Sides might play as well.

"Hopefully we'll have a full house both nights and get people fired up for the season," said Benson. "The next three or four weeks is our biggest stretch of the season with McCall and two new teams, from Weyburn and Boston. It should be good hockey."

McCall got its feet wet at Wyoming's Snow King Center Dec. 9-10. The Mountaineers lost the Friday night game 8-3 to the host Jackson Hole Moose but rebounded with a more physical effort Saturday for a 5-4 victory to split the series.

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