Saturday, January 14, 2006

North Stars snuffed in OT by Team USA

The Team USA Under-17 squad got a rare power play in overtime, and Colby Cohen made the most of it. Cohen’s goal with 1:12 left in the extra session on Friday gave the U.S. National Team Development Program’s U-17s a 3-2 victory at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube over the Traverse City North Stars.

The Stars outshot Team USA by a 35-31 margin, and broke an 0-for-22 powerplay drought in the second period on newly-acquired Mike Sand’s man-advantage goal, but a checking from behind minor on Arthur Bidwell at 2:58 of the overtime period proved too much to overcome.

“It (the call) seemed a little borderline,” Stars head coach/GM Scott Gardiner suggested. “I thought our guy had the body position. Their guy turned his back as they were battling for the puck, and they made the call. It’s not the reason we lost – we had our chances to win it – but you really don’t see that call in overtime very often.”

Cade Farichild got the U-17s going with the only goal of the first period at 15:34, but newly-signed Sand and Brett Englebright poked home back-to-back scores in the second period – at 6:59 and 8:10, respectively – to give the visiting Stars a brief 2-1 edge. Luc Du Bay and Steve Hackman drew assists on Sand’s goal, while Eric Elmblad and Steven Oleksy set up the Englebright tally. Joseph Lavin evened things up for Team USA with 8:31 left in regulation, setting up Cohen’s heroics.

“It was an excellent game,” Gardiner said. “I thought we played very well, even dominating for stretches. It was a good two-game series, we got three out of four (points), and there were a lot of positive things we can take away from this.”

“We battled hard tonight against a tough Traverse City team,” said USA head coach Ron Rolston. “We got some scoring tonight from our defenseman tonight which was key to our attack. It was a good win for us tonight.”

Jeremy Kaleniecki started in goal for Traverse City and made 28 stops, while Brad Phillips was equal to the task for Team USA (21-8-4), collecting 33 saves.

The North Stars, now 11-17-5, head to Alpena on Sunday to face off against the rival IceDiggers. Face-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Northern Lights Arena. Gardiner is hoping his team can end its season-long winless streak on the Diggers’ home ice.

“Sunday is big for us,” he said. “We have to be able to walk in there and win on their ice, and we haven’t done that yet. But if we play like we did against USA, we’ll have a chance to do that.”

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