Thursday, November 23, 2006

North Stars top Alpena, 3-1

The Thanksgiving turkey goes down a little smoother when dipped in the victory gravy.

Just ask Traverse City North Stars coach Scott Gardiner, whose team ended an 11-game losing streak with a 3-1 triumph over the first-place Alpena IceDiggers on Wednesday night at Centre ICE arena.

The North Stars (8-13-3) fell behind 1-0 when Chad Billins poked home a power-play tally just 3:13 into the second period, but a trio of third period goals – including the game-winner off the stick of Brett Englebright – gave Traverse City its first triumph since a 3-2 shootout win over Mahoning Valley on Oct. 14.

“We showed a lot of guts down the stretch in the third period there,” Gardiner said. “I’m very proud of these guys. We can’t exactly start over, but this is the start of a new ending. I think it was an impressive win against a good team and we hope it’s the start of a different kind of streak.”

Patrick Nagorsen evened the contest at 1-all just 4:40 into the second period on a power-play tally – his seventh of season – on an assist from Mike Glaesmer. Just over four minutes later, Englebright levied the eventual game-cincher on setups from Joe Greener and Nick Von Bokern. Glaesmer added a short-handed empty-netter with mere seconds on the clock. Harrison Niemann assisted.

“It was a great team win, no question about it,” Gardiner added. “And (goalie) Kyle (Jendra) was just awesome in net tonight. He made some crucial stops there late in the third, and really all throughout the game. I hate to single anyone out because it was such a team victory, but he was key for us.”

Jendra rebuked 30 of the 31 shots he faced, while Mike Jarboe was nearly as effective for the IceDiggers (16-6-1), making 25 stops on the 27 shots he saw.

"I thought we outplayed them in the first and second periods," Alpena coach-GM Kenny Miller said. "We got in penalty trouble in the third and they were able to score a 5-on-3 power-play goal and get momentum. We'll chalk this up as a missed opportunity and turn our attention Friday's game in Ann Arbor."

The North Stars travel to face the Team USA Under-17 squad on Sunday in Ann Arbor before returning to Centre ICE for a Dec. 1-2 series against Marquette. Alpena heads to Ann Arbor to take on the USA Under-17 team on Friday and Saturday night.

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