Saturday, February 25, 2006

North Stars get 'biggest win we’ve had'

The Texas Tornado was slowed to a dull breeze on Friday at Centre ICE arena, as the host Traverse City North Stars scored a 7-4 triumph over the reigning two-time North American Hockey League champions.

Travis Paeth (pictured) led the charge for the Stars with three goals and an assist, including the game-winning tally near the halfway mark of the third period. It was the second straight win for Traverse City, which has piled up 16 goals over that time, and was the biggest victory in the franchise’s brief history.

“To this point, yes, it was the biggest win we’ve had,” said Stars head coach/GM Scott Gardiner. “To knock off the champs in front of our own fans, it was awesome. We outplayed them in the first and the third, but they dominated us in the second, so it was great to see our guys come back for that final period and respond the way they did.”

The North Stars (15-29-5) raced to an early 3-0 lead on goals from Jon Madden (46 seconds in), Gaylord product Joe St. John (7:46) and Paeth (10:39) before the visitors answered with an Andrew Harrison goal with 3:39 remaining before the first intermission.

Karl Sellan scored twice and Brett Blatchford added another for Texas in the second stanza, as the hosts fell behind for the first time with 21 minutes left in the contest. But Jared Mullen knotted the affair a mere 20 seconds into the third, and Paeth recorded the decisive marker at 10:50. Jarrett Rush and Paeth added empty netters in the waning minutes to send nearly 800 fans away delighted.

“It was great, and great because it was Texas,” said Paeth, who leads the North Stars with 19 goals on the year. “When we get that first goal like we did the last two games, we’re a whole new team. We have to do that more often.”

The contest was marred by 27 penalties for 82 minutes, including a 10-minute scrum at 11:03 of the first period. Gardiner says that he was pleased to see his players remain as calm as possible amid a flurry of infractions for both squads.

“I’m glad we were able to keep our composure as well as we did,” Gardiner explained. “They tried to change the game to their style of play, but we were able to bring it back to our style of game and to stay away from the nonsense.”

Despite a rough patch that saw the North Stars drop seven straight, Gardiner says his club is beginning to come around mentally.

“We were snakebit for so long, and you keep telling the guys – to a point where I think it was wearing on them to hear it – that you just keep working hard and the breaks can go your way. Hopefully, this is starting to register.”

Patrick Nagorsen led a bevy of Stars who drew assists on the night with a pair of helpers, with former Tornado Eric Elmblad, Rush, Madden, Jonathan Juliano, Matt Larke, Richie Zobak and Traverse City native Jake Erway collecting an assist apiece.

Ryan Donovan backstopped TC to the win, raising his personal record to 5-9-2 with 26 saves on 30 shots. Matt DiGirolamo was tagged with the loss for Texas, stopping 23 of the 30 shots he saw.

The teams square off again on Saturday, as the North Stars will try to make it two straight over the defending champs before the Team USA Under-17 squad comes to Centre ICE for a Sunday matinee.

“It’s our biggest win, and we’ll enjoy it tonight, but we have to go right back to work tomorrow,” Gardiner added.

No comments: