Moose split fast-paced pair with rival Suns

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – We learned two things this past weekend at the Snow King and Event Center: The Suns are for real, and the Moose have character. These are the two best teams in the Black Diamond Hockey League and the difference in the playoffs come March could come down to home ice advantage. The BDHL championships will be held in Jackson this March 8-9, 2019.

Friday night (Suns 3, Moose 1)

Jackson Hole spent much of the night Friday chasing Sun Valley around the ice. The Suns’ up-tempo game and crisp passing make them a threat in all areas of the ice. The visitors pushed the play for 60 minutes Friday night, getting excellent goaltending from first-year Sun Bobby Bowden in their own end, and racing up ice with speed through the neutral zone whenever they managed to clear their own zone.

It was an evenly played first period Friday night—both teams getting a few chances but no odd-man rushes to speak of. The pace was quick and the post-whistle mucking at a minimum, especially considering the historically heated rivalry. There was but one two-minute minor penalty called all game.

After trading goals in the second—Tom Hartnett for the Moose, DJ Robinson for the Suns—both clubs came out of their dressing rooms with cautious play in the final frame. With the 5-on-5 play being so balanced, both teams knew a power play would be a big difference-maker so every effort was made to stay out of the box.

The Suns found the go ahead goal off the stick of Eli Conrad and the Moose could not answer, surrendering an empty-netter in the final minute of play to make the final score 3-1, Suns.

Scoring was hard to come by in both games over the weekend as goaltenders shined and open space was hard to find. (Buck)

Saturday night (Moose 3, Suns 0)

Saturday’s game looked the equivalent of the previous night, with a fast-paced first period only this time the Moose got a late-period goal from AJ Sanders off a rebound left in the crease by Suns goalie Matt Cooper.

The hometowners added another one in he second after a rocket from the point off the stick of Brad Improta rang off the post and into the net on the PP. It took the air out of the Suns who looked slower for the rest of the game, lost the one-on-one battles for the puck, and began to squeeze their sticks tightly the goals wouldn’t come.

Saturday belonged to Moose goalie Nick Krauss. He stoned the Suns’ shooters at every opportunity—making the easy saves with a confident calm and standing on his head when he had to. By the third, the Suns were missing the net more often, trying to be too fine with their shots.

Alex Dewitz put a dagger in it midway through the final period with the Moose third goal.

Moose dependable d-man Nate Goss-Woliner returned to the line-up Saturday after missing some time with a hand injury. Leading scorer Drew Akins (post-concussion) also did not play against the Suns.

The Moose roster was bolstered by the return of forward Jake Leitner, a Minnesota native who made his debut with the Moose last season, and RJ Majkozak, who first joined the club this year on the road against Vail.

The Moose are now 6-2 on the season. Next up is a home set with the Boulder Yellow Jackets in a non-league pair on December 21-22.

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