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Suns Blank Moose to Win Championship
Sunday, March 11, 2018


“This was the plan from the beginning of the season, Coach Cub Burke stated following the Sun Valley Suns convincing 5-0 victory over the Jackson Hole Moose in the Championship game of the 2018 Black Diamond Hockey League playoffs. 

The Suns captured the Joe Casey Cup for the second time in the last three years, shutting out the Moose in front of a huge crowd at the Campion Ice House in Hailey.

Last year the Suns missed the finals, losing in the semifinals to the Bozeman Stingers. This year’s Suns team would not be denied the opportunity, dispatching the Stingers 4-3 in the semis Friday night to set up the finals’ dream matchup between the top two teams in the BDHL.

And on this Saturday night, the team from Sun Valley clearly stood out at the top.

Veteran forward Justin Taylor opened the scoring at the 8:39 mark of the first period with a power play goal for the Suns on a one-timer from just inside the blue line. Three minutes later, Captain Ryan Enrico scored in traffic in the crease to put the home team hosts up 2-0. Goalie Matt Cooper stopped all Moose shots on goal to give the Suns the two goal lead at the first intermission.

The second period started out much like the first, as the Suns controlled the puck in the Jackson end of the ice and pressured the Moose defense and goal tender.  Defenseman Mike Curry directed a Sean O’Grady shot into the net 11 minutes into the period to give the Suns a 3-0 lead.

With 7:56 remaining in the second period, Cooper, who was consistently frustrating the Moose, got tangled up with a couple of Jackson players in front of the net and went face down on the ice for a few moments. The raucous crowd became very quiet as Friday night’s winning goalie Ryan Thomson began to get loose in front of the Suns’ bench. After the team doctors checked him out, Cooper stayed in the game, much to the delight of the Suns’ faithful.

Rookie forward Dylan Shamburger, from Bowdoin College, beat the Moose goalie in the top left corner with 3:02 remaining in the period to make the count 4-0. Cooper, no worse for wear, continued his dominance and the Suns took the four goal lead into the locker room at the end of two periods.

Sun Valley killed off a two-man advantage power play to start the third period, deflating any hopes of a Jackson comeback. Three and a half minutes into the final stanza, rookie forward Chad O’Brien scored to give the Suns a 5-0 lead. The Suns and Cooper proceeded to deny all of the Moose chances for the final 16 minutes of the game, setting off the celebration on the ice and in the stands when the clock hit zero.

The team celebrated at center ice, taking turns skating with the Casey Cup and acknowledging the crowd that supported them throughout the season.

This victory means a lot, especially after not making the finals last year, said Justin Taylor.

The Suns were better than the Moose in every facet of the game, and Coach Burke was impressed by the dominance of his team.

“I think this is the best game, from start to finish, I have seen from any Suns team, he added.

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