Saturday, February 18, 2006

IceDiggers blank North Stars, 4-zip

Let the playoff chase begin.

In the first of six down-the-stretch meetings between the Traverse City North Stars and Alpena IceDiggers, goalie Johnny Morrow pitched a shutout on Friday, helping the host Diggers to a 4-0 victory at Northern Lights Arena.

A Drew Pierson goal just :43 into the contest, and a pair of tallies a mere 39 seconds apart late in the opening period set the stage for Alpena's fifth victory against the Stars this season heading into Saturday night's rematch at Centre ICE arena in Traverse City.

"The bottom line tonight was that we had our chances and couldn't make 'em count," said Stars head coach/GM Scott Gardiner. "You can't put a goose egg up on the board and win a hockey game."

Erik Peterson tacked on a third period goal after the teams battled to a draw in the second stanza, but it was the first 20 minutes of action that settled things on the scoreboard. Alpena peppered TC goalkeep Jeremy Kaleniecki with 26 shots prior to the first intermission, with Pierson, Korey O'Brien (16:04) and Justin Stadler (16:43) giving the home club more than would be required to emerge with a pair of points on Friday.

"I thought we played well in the second and third (periods), but we keep saying that you can't show up and play just 40 minutes," Gardiner added. "We came out flat, we gave up three early goals, and we didn't get a single goal of our own. You're not going to win a lot of games that way."

Kaleniecki made 42 saves but was tagged with the loss, falling to 10-20-3. Morrow faced 31 Stars chances, and turned each aside.

The Diggers, now 9-31-5 and only eight points behind Traverse City (13-29-5) in the chase for the final playoff spot in the North American Hockey League's North Division, will square off against the North Stars again tonight in TC. Face-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Morrow photo by John L. Russell/Great Lakes Images

No comments: