Thursday, February 02, 2006

North Stars dropped by Texarkana, 6-2

For two periods on Wednesday at the Four States Entertainment Center, the Traverse City North Stars battled Texarkana to a virtual draw, but a four-goal outburst in the final stanza gave the hosts a 6-2 victory and the visiting Stars opened their four-game road swing with a setback.

The Bandits outshot TC by a 42-29 margin, but it was the three-goal showing by Jason Weeks that proved to be the greatest of Texarkana’s difference-makers.

Weeks registered the lone goal of the opening period at 8:42 on an unassisted shorthanded effort, but the Stars issued a rejoinder a mere 33 seconds into the second stanza when Travis Paeth and Richie Zobak set up a Jonathan Juliano goal – his sixth of the year – with the North Stars on the powerplay. Just a minute and a half later, the host Bandits went back in front when Pat Knowlton answered the Juliano tally, but Traverse City evened things up again 27 ticks after Knowlton’s goal on Jared Mullen’s 12th of the season. Brett Englebright and Matt Larke drew assists for the North Stars.

The Bandits (28-10-2) took control of the affair in the third stanza with another flurry of lamplighters – three in a span of 5:55 on just four shots. Captain Casey Haines started things off for Texarkana 4:40 into the final session, followed by Aaron Lewicki less than a minute later. At 10:35 of the third, Weeks gave the hosts a three-goal cushion with his second goal of the evening. Weeks added an empty-netter with 1:25 to play to convert the hat trick.

Ryan Donovan, coming off his sterling performance against Mahoning Valley on Saturday, got the nod in net for the Stars and had 36 saves on 42 chances. Former Sault Ste. Marie prep star Miles Williams started for Texarkana and equaled Donovan with 27 stops.

Traverse City (13-23-5) travels to Frisco, Tex. on Thursday for the first-ever meeting with the North American Hockey League champion Texas Tornado. The Stars return to Texarkana on Friday before heading back to the Dallas metroplex for another return engagement with the Tornado on Saturday.

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