Friday, December 16, 2005

North Stars win, Whalers lose Thursday


After a nine-game famine without the sweet taste of victory, the Traverse City North Stars feasted on Alpena at Centre ICE arena on Thursday, 3-2. Travis Paeth notched a pair of goals for the Stars, while fellow front-liner Jared Mullen added an assist to go with the game-clinching tally.

“Thank goodness,” exhaled a relieved North Stars head coach/GM Scott Gardiner. “It’s sort of like getting that first win of the season – you need good things to happen, like some timely plays, some lines to step up, and we got that tonight.”

After Anthony McIntyre gave the visitors a 1-0 lead just 3:33 into the contest, Paeth leveled the equalizer at 14:40. Defensemen Ryan Reid and Jarrett Rush assisted.

Paeth gave the hosts a 2-1 edge just :18 into the second period on assists from Mullen and Adam Sponseller, but Eric Roman and the IceDiggers answered just over five minutes later, sending the game into the second intermission knotted at 2-all.

Paeth and Sponseller set Mullen up for the game-winner with 8:10 to play, snapping the roughest patch in the North Stars’ brief history, and building some much-needed momentum heading into the second half of the season.

“Absolutely, we needed to build some (momentum),” Gardiner conceded. “When you’re in a drought like we were, a win like this can really help turn it around.”

Paeth agreed.

“It was good tom come back home in front of our fans and get one (a win),” said Paeth, who now has eight goals and 19 points through 26 games. “But most of all, I think we just got back to having some fun.”

Steven Oleksy says the team’s week or work helped put the Stars back into the ‘W’ column.

“We had a great week of practice,” Oleksy explained. “We had to work on our chemistry a little bit, as is usually the case when you go on a losing streak, but we really … came together this week.”

Jeremy Kaleniecki worked the pipes for Traverse City (10-14-4), smothering 31 shots on 33 tries. Phil Greer made 31 saves of his own for the Diggers, now 6-20-3.

Another North Division rival, Cleveland, will visit Centre ICE arena for a Sunday matinee. Face-off is slated for noon. Fans who bring a new, unwrapped toy for the Toys for Tots program will get into the game for half-off admission.

That same night up in Peterborough, the Plymouth Whalers fell to the hometown Petes, 5-4.

Jordan Staal’s second goal of the game with 4:16 left in regulation snapped a 4-4 before 3,615 at the Memorial Centre in Peterborough.

Peterborough – the Ontario Hockey League’s top team with a record now of 24-5-1-0 – never led in the game until Staal’s second goal of the game and 16th of the season. Plymouth is now 16-11-1-3 and in a tie with Saginaw for first place in the OHL’s West Division.

The Whalers led at various points in the game at 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3, in spite being outshot by the Petes, 48-36. Plymouth goaltender Justin Peters stopped 43 of 48 Peterborough shots as the game’s third star in his second game with Plymouth since being acquired in a trade a week ago with Toronto.

Besides Staal’s pair, Greg Stewart (11), Patrick Kaleta (11) and Dan Ryder (20) scored single goals for Peterborough Trevor Hendrikx and Liam Reddox contributed three assists each for Peterborough.

Derek Merlini (2), Andrew Fournier (11), Dan Collins (team-leading 23) and Steve Ward (9) single one goal apiece for the Whalers and Evan Brophey contributed two assists.

Referee Joe Park sent a constant stream of skaters to the penalty box. Peterborough went 3-for-10 on the power play, Plymouth 1-for-8.

Peters was outstanding for Plymouth in the first period as Peterborough outshot the Whalers, 15-5. Merlini gave Plymouth a 1-0 at 3:29 of the first period when he tucked a hard shot from the slot under the cross bar and past Petes’ goaltender David Shantz. Fournier batted home a rebound by Shantz to give the Whalers a 2-0 lead at 19:09 of the first period.

Peterborough tied the game in the second period on goals by Staal (2:02) and Stewart (15:16), but Collins restored the Whalers at 3-2 with 1:10 left in the period when he put back John Vigilante’s backhand shot from the right dot past Shantz and the left lip of the Peterborough crease.

Peterborough tied the game at 3-3 on Kaleta’s goal at 2:35 of the third period, but Ward restored Plymouth’s lead at 4-3 when his shot from the top of the left circle beat Shantz. But Ryder tied the game at 4-4 at 8:21 and Staal scored the game-winner when he batted home a rebound on the right wing side of the Plymouth goal.

Plymouth appeared to tie the game with two minutes left in regulation on a 4-on-3 power play. Gino Pisellini batted home a rebound by Shantz, but Park waved the goal off, saying the whistle blew before the puck went over the goal line.

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