Thursday, December 14, 2006

Alpena tops Traverse City Wednesday night

It’s been almost a month since the Traverse City North Stars didn’t come away from a game with a least one point, but that was little consolation following the Stars’ 5-2 setback at Alpena on Wednesday.

The contest marked the first of four games in five days against two of the North American Hockey League’s top clubs.

On Wednesday, the host IceDiggers got a pair of first period goals – including Drew Pierson’s power-play effort with just over two minutes until the first intermission – and outshot their visitors from the west, 15-10 over the first 20 minutes.

Patrick Nagorsen opened the second with a man-advantage conversion just 34 ticks into the stanza, but Justin Stadler registered his second of the game to put the hosts out front by two again. Less than three minutes later, Nick Von Bokern pulled TC to within a goal once more with his fifth goal of the year, but a pair of rapid-fire goals from IceDiggers Ben Kitzmiller (1:35) and Stars castoff Mike DeGrazia (3:49) – and being whistled for six of the game’s last seven penalties – put the contest out of reach for the North Stars at Northern Lights Arena.

“A flat team showed up here tonight,” said Stars head coach Scott Gardiner. “No jump, no intensity. We let in a couple of softies in the first period, and just couldn’t get back in it. I don’t know what it is about us in this building.”

Kyle Jendra spelled Stefan Shively in net early in the final period, and the two goalkeepers combined for 34 saves on 39 shots. Shawn Hunwick and Mike Jarboe shared duties for Alpena, amassing 23 saves. Jarboe, who worked the third period, faced just two shots.

Mike Glaesmer and Harrison Niemann drew assists on Nagorsen’s ninth goal of the year, while Ben Plocar and Sabastion Kimmel set up Von Bokern’s marker.

Traverse City (11-14-5) will play host to the red-hot Mahoning Valley Phantoms on Friday and Saturday at Centre ICE arena. The Phantoms have won 16 consecutive times since they dropped a 3-2 shootout decision in Traverse City on Oct. 14. The Stars return to Alpena for Sunday’s matinee and the final contest before the Christmas holiday break.

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