With the Portland Legends in town on Friday night to take on the Jackson Hole Moose at Snow King Sports and Events Center, those in attendance were treated to a bit of everything.
There was a fight that left Moose forward Alex Dewitz without his sweater and with a bloody nose, and there was a third-period comeback that sent Jackson to its third-straight victory, 8-5, to open the year.
Saturday night was different. The Moose, carrying the same pressure it relied on to find victory Friday, buried the Legends before the second period had even begun.
Despite donning a No. 420 jersey, Legends goaltender Ryan Stephens was unable to find much inner peace through the first 20 minutes on Saturday. He was peppered with shots throughout, to the tune of a 5-1 Jackson lead by the time the sides headed into the first intermission. The Moose scoring slowed down in the second and third periods before wrapping up the victory 7-2.
“After last night’s third period, we could just replicate out-skating them,” Jackson forward AJ Sanders said Saturday. “Just outwork them. We tried to come out strong, and we’re usually slow starters so it’s good to put a few up early.”
Despite the Friday fight, no fists were thrown Saturday. The Park City squad that visited to open the season brought a number of thick boys who forward Drew Akins noted knew how to finish their hits. Portland meanwhile is without the same type of size, and that lack of physicality showed as the Moose put the Legends away Saturday.
“We just wore them down; they weren’t overly physical, so we tried to pick up our physical play,” Sanders said. “They backed off for sure.”
The first period of deep pucks and simply out skating not only showed Jackson’s pressure, but it showed their depth as well. Five players found the back of the net, with scores coming from Akins, Charley Bemis, Ryan Glantz, Sanders and Tom Hartnett. Akins added a second period goal for Jackson as well, which brought his red lamp total to four for the weekend.
“Scoring has been spread out this year, which has been really nice,” Sanders said. “Getting contributions from guys like Bemis, and Ryan Glantz — all three, four lines are chipping in.”
That depth is particularly promising because after a break this weekend for the holiday, Jackson will have few breaks through March. The Moose return to the ice Dec. 6 and 7 in Vail, Colorado, for one of their two road trips this season. The sides will meet again the following weekend at Snow King to wrap up the season series.
“Those are two ski town rivalry games, so those are going to be pretty hard fought,” Sanders said.