Monday, December 12, 2005

North Stars, IceDiggers snuffed last weekend

The two Michigan NAHL teams were skunked last weekend as neither the Traverse City North Stars nor Alpena IceDiggers recorded wins.

In Youngstown, Ohio, the Mahoning Valley Phantoms beat Traverse City, 6-5 in a shootout Friday night and then 5-0 Saturday evening.

After the shootout loss – the Stars’ eighth consecutive setback – head coach and GM Scott Gardiner said his club is turning the corner.

“To step off the bus after eight hours and get a point (in the standings) out of that, I’m encouraged,” he explained. “It was a good game, some good hockey out there.”

Patrick Nagorsen (pictured) and Steven Oleksy, each with two, and Matthew Larke scored for the North Stars.

In the shootout, all five North Stars shooters came up dry, while each Phantoms entry found twine.

“Patrick and Steven played very well,” Gardiner said. “It was actually a pretty good all-around team effort tonight, we just have to get over that hump. We played good hockey tonight, we just have to turn that kind of effort into a win.”

Ryan Donovan worked the nets for TC, facing a whopping 56 shots while stopping 51. Jared Mullen and Travis Paeth had two assists each for the Stars.

Saturday night, the hosts peppered TC netminder Jeremy Kaleniecki to the tune of 45 shots and converted three of their five power-play opportunities. The Phantoms enjoyed a 23-9 edge in shots on net in the second period alone, while the North Stars failed to capitalize on five man-advantage situations. Traverse City did skate to a 14-9 bulge in shots over the final 20 minutes, but could not solve Phantoms' goalie Bryce Merriam, who stopped 28 shots.

Friday night, Alpena fell, 5-2, to the U.S. National Under-17 Team in Alpena. Gilles Hickey and Matt Suggs scored for the IceDiggers while goalie Johnny Morrow made 34 saves. Alpena is in Traverse City Thursday night and then hosts the Cleveland Jr. Barons Friday and Saturday night.

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