The Jackson Hole Moose grabbed two wins from the Colorado Nailers, who were standing in for the Sun Valley No-Shows.
According to sources in the Moose organization, the Suns refused to travel to Jackson to play the scheduled games after a rough hit during Jackson trip to Sun Valley last month. Sun Valley’s Nick Curry was injured when Moose defenseman Kristian Ophus checked him into Moose goaltender Robbie Leslie.
Sun Valley GM John “Cubbie” Burke took exception with the hit and refused to allow his squad to travel to Jackson.
Jackson 8, Colorado 5
The New Year’s Eve game was a close one throughout as the Nailers refused to go gently into that good year. Having learned from the last time these two teams met December 10-11, the Moose got off to a fast start Friday, burying 4 goals in the opening frame.
But credit Colorado, they never quit playing and by the 2nd intermission, no one was leaving the Snow King Sports and Event Center early with a tenuous 5-4 Moose advantage and 20 minutes left to play.
Jackson did finally put the Nailers away with a 3-goal 3rd period, securing an 8-5 win just hours before the end of 2021.
AJ Sanders (2G, 2A) and Drew Akins (1G 3A) were again a Jackson’s point leaders and a thing of beauty to watch night in and night out. Mike Ballard added a goal and an assist in his first action of the year. Joe Zelenka and Charlie Bemis also scored for the Moose.
Jackson 12, Colorado 6
Saturday’s affair was a wild one. Fans were kept engaged as the Nailers again hung in there with the hometown team. The Moose took a 1-goal lead into the first intermission only to watch Colorado come charging back with a 4-goal 2nd as goaltender Nick Krauss was uncharacteristically leaky for the middle 20 minutes.
Jackson pulled away, though, with 5 unanswered goals in the 3rd as the Nailers began to fade.
Drew Akins was ridiculous Saturday with 2 goals and 6 assists. Dakota Richardson picked up a hat trick, and Joe Zelenka notched a pair as well.
It was a ‘Gordie Howe hat trick’ for Moose blueliner Vincent Macri (2G, 2A). The rugged defenseman will no doubt be soaking his knuckles to start 2022 as he followed up a fight Friday with an absolute haymaker dance with Colorado’s Preston James on Saturday.
The Moose (10-2) host St. Louis this weekend, January 7-8 at the Snow King SEC.