Monday, July 25, 2005

Surprises unearthed by North Stars

By Jeff Peek
Traverse City Record-Eagle

Surprise, surprise.

The Traverse City North Stars found a couple of them during their training camp over the weekend at Centre ICE. They're just not naming all of them yet.

"It went well. A few guys jumped out at us that we weren't expecting," said Scott Gardiner, head coach of the first-year North American Hockey League team. "There were some pleasant surprises. We still have some tough decisions to make before the first (Aug. 1)."

Gardiner said that "on paper, we're in a much better position than I anticipated."

"Now it's up to Mike (Stapleton, assistant coach) and I to whip them into shape."

Some 50 players took part in the three-day camp that ended Sunday. Nearly 700 fans attended Saturday night's Blue-White All-Star Game and a tailgate party that followed.

According to Gardiner, the line of Jake Mullen, Matt Larke and John Juliano were "by far the best line going."

Mullen, a 6-foot, 170-pound winger who played for Belle Tire AAA in St. Clair Shores a year ago, was one of the non-drafted players to make the cut.

"It feels good; I'm excited about it," Mullen said. "Once the first cuts were made the tempo really picked up."

Mullen is the 16-year-old nephew of former NHL star Joey Mullen, who scored over 500 goals in his career, and Brian Mullen, who played 11 seasons in the NHL.

Seventeen players have been awarded roster spots. Eight more will be decided upon on Aug. 1.

The North Stars begin preseason camp Aug. 15-20. Their regular season home opener is Sept. 23.

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