Friday, February 03, 2006

Texas edges Traverse City, 4-3

For the second straight night, the Traverse City North Stars went blow-for-blow with one of the North American Hockey League’s best teams. And for the second straight night the Stars were outscored in the final 20 minutes to come away with a tough loss.

On Thursday, Traverse City fought to a 1-all draw through the first two-thirds of the contest at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter near Dallas, but a pair of goals over a span of 4:38 in the final stanza pushed the two-time defending NAHL champion Tornado to a 4-3 triumph. The night before in Texarkana, the Bandits hit for four third period goals in a 6-2 victory.

“But tonight we played three good periods ,” North Stars head coach/GM Scott Gardiner explained. “Last night, we played two, but I was very happy with our effort tonight. It says we can compete with anyone on any given night – that’s what I take away from this.”

Despite being outshot by a whopping 17-3 count in the first period, the Stars got on the board first, as Eric Elmblad beat Texas goalkeep Matt DiGirolamo just 3:07 into the game. It was the second goal of the season for Elmblad, who spent 2004-05 with the Tornado. Patrick Nagorsen assisted.

Ryan Fuller evened things up for the hosts with the lone goal of the second period – at the 10:17 mark – on a power play, and the teams went to the second intermission break knotted at a goal apiece.

Texas (30-9-3) pulled ahead at 5:13 of the final session when Devrin Stonehouse converted a Tornado power play that capped a run of 10 unanswered shots on goal, but defenseman Jarrett Rush put the visiting Stars on even footing with his second goal of the season at 9:22 of the third. Sal Ragusa drew an assist on Rush’s even strength effort.

The tie lasted all of 29 seconds, however, as Nielsson Arcibal pushed the home club back in front – this time for good -- by a 3-2 margin with 10:09 to play. Jordan Mowbray slipped in a shorthanded empty-netter in the waning moments for Texas to make it a two-goal margin, but the North Stars wouldn’t go away. Nagorsen poked home his team-leading 13th goal with :48 left to make it a one-goal difference on the scoreboard.

Ryan Donovan drew the difficult assignment in net for Traverse City (13-24-5) when scheduled starter Jeremy Kaleniecki was took a puck to the throat in warm-ups and was driven to the hospital for tests. Donovan recorded 38 stops in 42 chances, while DiGirolamo faced just 18 shots and turned aside 15 of them.

“We played a good game tonight, but we have to follow that up with three periods of hard play again tomorrow night,” Gardiner said. “We have to finish the trip up strong and try to get out of here with some points.”

The North Stars return to Texarkana on Friday for a rematch with the Bandits before finishing up the four-game road trip back in Frisco for Saturday’s finale against the Tornado.

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