Friday, November 21, 2008

North Stars readying for North Showcase

The Traverse City North Stars will get to enjoy an early Thanksgiving holiday in the company of kith and kin, but not for long.

After seven straight weeks of North American Hockey League action, the team enjoyed its first break of the season two weeks ago and picked up two of a possible four points last weekend in Marquette. The first-place Stars (13-3-2) will soak up a holiday respite this weekend, in advance of the Nov. 28-30 North Division Showcase in Youngstown, Ohio.

“We used that first weekend off to get healthy, and we’ve been able to work on our power play this week,” said Traverse City head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo, whose club went 0-for-16 in Marquette and fell from second in the league in power play efficiency to sixth. “It’s been struggle for us (on the power play), even before the Marquette series we could kind of see it. So this week has been just what we needed to focus on that aspect of the game.”

While players will get a chance to head home for the brief break, there’ll be plenty of scoreboard-watching as well. Second-place Mahoning Valley plays a pair of contests at the third-place Team USA U-17s, Marquette also visits Ann Arbor for two against the U-18s and Alpena visits Motor City in a Saturday-Sunday series. Mahoning can grab a share of the NAHL North lead with a sweep.

The teams will get a chance to sort it out for themselves the following weekend in Youngstown, with Traverse City facing off against Mahoning Valley, Alpena and interdivisional foe St. Louis at the three-day, two-venue showcase.

“It’s really a great event,” Palumbo added. “The response from colleges has been phenomenal and there’ll be a lot of them there to watch. Everyone will be trying to put their best foot forward all weekend.”

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