Friday, March 03, 2006

North Stars suffer 5-2 defeat to Phantoms

The Traverse City North Stars are becoming all too familiar with the NAHL’s top scoring line. The trio of Anthony Ciraulo, Marc Menzione and Drew Satterley made the Stars pay once again on Saturday at Centre ICE, as each posted a goal and an assist during a third period that saw the Mahoning Valley Phantoms turn a 1-1 game into a 5-2 victory for the visitors.

Traverse City stayed 13 points ahead of Alpena in the chase for the fourth and final playoff berth in the NAHL’s North Division.

The IceDiggers dropped a 4-2 decision to Cleveland on Friday at Northern Lights Arena.

“We just didn’t have the jump we had last weekend against Texas,” Stars head coach/GM Scott Gardiner said. “We had to dress 17 instead of 20 because of injuries and suspensions, but we have to figure out a way to get these guys (Mahoning Valley). It’s the same guys that beat us every time we play them.”

Patrick Nagorsen had the lone goal of the opening stanza – his 17th of the season -- giving the host North Stars a 1-0 edge they’d carry into the second period. Travis Paeth and Sal Ragusa drew assists. Milan Drevenak evened things up 5:03 into the second period, and Menzione gave the visitors a 2-1 advantage just 2:49 into the final session. Jarrett Rush and Matt Larke set up Jonathan Juliano for an equalizing goal two minutes after Menzione’s marker, but Satterley (10:50) and Mike Maltese (11:55) put the game away for the Phantoms. Menzione added an empty-netter with three seconds left to make it a 5-2 final.

Gardiner says he was disappointed with the outcome, but not the play of TC netkeep Ryan Donovan, who has taken his game to another level over the past month.

“Donnie kept us in the game tonight,” Gardiner explained. “It was a solid, solid effort for Ryan. Those first goals we gave up in the third were due to major breakdowns in our own end. We can’t let these guys get set up in the slot like that, because they’ll bury the puck, and that’s exactly what they did.”

Donovan made 37 saves on 43 attempts, while his Mahoning Valley counterpart, Ryan Zapolski, claimed the victory with 26 stops.

The Phantoms (30-16-4) return to Centre ICE arena on Saturday for another 7:30 p.m. face-off. The Stars, now 15-31-6, will play a third game this weekend, traveling to Alpena for a Sunday matinee.

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