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Sun Valley Suns Articles:
12/20/2006
Paper: Idaho Mountain Express
Author: Jeff Cordes

Full house greets Suns for home hockey debut
Sun Valley dusts off Silver Kings 8-5, 12-2


Wood River Valley hockey fans were ready to party Friday night. They jammed in, bought their raffle tickets and gave the Sun Valley Suns a full house for their season opener against the Park City Silver Kings.

It turned out to be an eventful weekend for the deep Suns (4-0-0). They continued their early-season dominance on the power play with 8-5 and 12-2 wins over the Utah visitors at Sun Valley Skating Center.

Coach Chris Benson's Suns scored eight power-play goals in 14 attempts against Park City and also excelled as penalty-killing snipers, notching a franchise record five shorthanded goals in the 12-2 rout.

Rookie Suns players in particular enjoyed the two-game series and their introduction to Sun Valley hockey. Tying for the weekend scoring lead were first-year defenseman Jami James (7 assists) and wing Blake Jenson (2 goals, 5 assists) with another rookie, Jon Duval (1-5 for 6) right behind. Eighteen Suns scored.

In Saturday's win, rookie wing Adam Swain had the first three-goal "hat trick" of the Suns season before the second period ended and he also had the first of five shorthanded Suns goals. The Suns scored only five shorthanded goals all last season.

Benson said, "It was huge having a full barn Friday night which gave our new players a good introduction to their home rink. I was also happy with the team Park City brought, and pretty much was pleased with everything about the weekend."

To show their appreciation for all he has done for the Suns, players awarded the "George Jacket" to John "Cub" Burke after Saturday's lopsided game. The game was blown wide open by five unanswered Sun Valley goals in an 11-minute span of the second. The Suns tallied the final nine goals of the game.

Sixth-year defenseman Paul Baranzelli, who scored four times Saturday, started the 9-0 run with a tough-angle slapshot off of a face-off won by 15th-year Suns winger John Miller, who also scored two goals.

Former Denver University lacrosse player Swain carried the puck across the crease from the left wing and made it 5-2, shorthanded, then Ryan Enrico made it two goals in 18 seconds by bursting in alone for a 6-2 cushion. Swain's hat trick was a tip of Trevor Thomas' slapshot, then Baranzelli took a cross-ice pass from Chris Warrington making it 8-2.

The rambunctious crowd Friday enjoyed another strong second period effort when the Suns broke open a 3-2 game with four goals. The first, by rookie center Paul Cox, put Sun Valley ahead 4-2. Center Jamie Ellison scooped home a Josh Jacobson shot from the point for a power-play tally that made the score 5-3.

After Park City closed its deficit to 5-4, the Suns put together a series of sweet passes in their offensive zone that ended with an Eric Demment blast from the point on the power play. Then Cox scored his second goal on a Jon Duval pass.

Goalie Ryan Thomson (34 saves) showed his toughness by stopping a Ben Holt breakaway with five seconds left in the second period. Facing several five-on-three Utah power plays, Thomson was dazzling with 12 saves on 13 Silver King shots in the third period. Trailing 8-5, Park City finally showed its frustration.

With 14 minutes left Park City's Holt got into a fight with probably the least pugnacious Suns player of all, alternate captain Vilnis Nikolaisons. Vilnis' center Jamie Ellison quickly piled into the fray to help out. All three players were given game misconducts following the crowd-pleasing fracas and had to sit out Saturday's game as well.

In all, there were 98 penalty minutes Friday, 57 for the Suns.

But the Suns have plenty of depth, even without Nikolaisons and Ellison, the third- and fifth-highest scorers in team history. Coach Benson used four forward lines again Saturday night and by the third period, the Silver Kings were dry toast.

Next up for the Suns is their annual Suns-Future Suns exhibition game Wednesday, Dec. 27 to raise money for Sun Valley Junior Hockey and the Brett Sammis Scholarship.

Then the 2004 national champion McCall Mountaineers arrive for New Year's Eve weekend Dec. 29-30.

Check this week's Mountain Express Web site for a complete hockey summary and updated season stats.

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