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Suns Come From Behind Twice
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Sunday, March 4, 2018
 

BY MICHAEL DAVID

PHOTOS BY LYNN MASON-PATTNOSH

In their final tune-up before next weekend’s Black Diamond Hockey League playoffs, the Sun Valley Suns came from behind in back-to-back games to defeat the Vermont Switchbacks 6-5 on Friday night and 9-7 Saturday night at the Campion Ice House in Hailey.

Both games required extra hockey beyond regulation, with Mike Currie scoring the overtime winner in the first game and the Suns winning in a thrilling shootout the following evening.

On Saturday, Vermont came out determined, eyeing a split with the hometown Suns. The Switchbacks, composed of mostly Middlebury alumni who graduated in 2013-2015, jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by former Sun, George Ordway. Dylan Shamburger cut the deficit in half, scoring at the 7:39 mark, with assists from Chad O’Brien and Robbie Murden and the teams went to the first intermission with Vermont up by a score of 2-1.

The Switchbacks scored 4:15 into the second period to regain their two-goal cushion, and scored two minutes later to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Michael Budd scored at 11:26 with the helper from Justin Taylor to make the score 4-2 in favor of Vermont. But the Switchbacks answered less than 30 seconds later to once again go ahead by three goals. Another Vermont score with five minutes remaining in the second period gave the visitors a 6-2 lead entering the final 20 minutes of play.

As he headed onto the ice for the third period, Suns’ defensemen Tyler Lovejoy was confident, saying, We’ve got them right where we want them.”

Chad O’Brien scored 1:04 into the final stanza, assisted by fellow first-year Suns Murden and Shamburger to pull the home team within three goals, 6-3. Four minutes later, Taylor scored on passes from Currie and Budd to pull within two goals, igniting the Suns faithful at the Ice House. A power play goal by the apparently clairvoyant Lovejoy at the halfway mark of the third period and Vermont was now clinging to a slim one-goal lead, 6-5. 

With 1:32 seconds remaining in regulation, Suns goaltender Matt Cooper gloved a shot on goal and instead of holding the puck for a face off, he fired the puck up ice and Marty Flichel scored to tie the game at 6-6. The rare goalie assist and score sent the game into overtime and the crowd into a frenzy for the second consecutive night.

Following the scoreless overtime period, the teams readied for the shootout. Cooper thwarted the first Vermont attempt, but former Sun goalie, Michael Peters, now playing for Vermont, stymied Taylor to keep the score tied. Coop foiled the second Switchback, and O’Brien scored to give the Suns the lead 7-6.

Cooper stopped the third Vermont attempt, and Murden, after a nifty deke, beat Peters to put the Suns up 8-6.  In the fourth round, Vermont was able to sneak the puck past Cooper to stay alive, now trailing 8-7. But the cagey veteran Flichel found the net to seal the victory for the Suns, 9-7.

Suns coach Cub Burke was very pleased with his team’s effort, stating “It is a hard way to learn, but coming from behind two games in a row, these are big character wins, I'm proud of them.” Asked about what the team would work on heading into the playoffs, Burke said simply, “Faster starts”.

The host Suns (14-8, 8-2 league) are the top-seed in next weekend’s BDHL playoffs at the Campion Ice House. On Friday in the semi-finals, #2 seed Jackson Hole Moose will face #3 seed Vail Yeti at 4:30 p.m. Following that game, the Suns battle the #4 seeded Bozeman Stingers with the puck dropping at 7:30 p,m. The winners will play in the championship game on Saturday at 7  p.m. 

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