Saturday, November 01, 2008

North Stars' winning streak now at nine

It might be Halloween season, but the Traverse City North Stars are playing the role of Scrooge these days, becoming miserly in the goals-allowed department after a 1-0 victory over Mahoning Valley on Friday at Centre ICE arena.

It was Traverse City’s second straight shutout win and extended the franchise-best streak to nine consecutive triumphs.

“We knew that Mahoning was coming in here ready to play,” said Stars goalie Brandon Stephenson, who also blanked Team USA by a 3-0 margin back on Oct. 11. “We knew we had to have one of our better efforts to play with them, and we were able to get it done.”

Kyle Jean scored the game’s only goal at 15:15 of the second period on assists from David Johnstone and Eric O’Hearn, while Stephenson and the TC defense made it stand up.

“It makes it easier on our defense and penalty killing unit to have to go out and kill off only three penalties tonight,” said TC head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “And instead of having to face 30-35 shots tonight, Bandon had to contend with 24 of them. Those things make a huge difference.”

Stephenson made several “huge saves at huge moments,” according to Palumbo, but none we bigger than when he stoned Erik Higby on a penalty shot early in the third period.

“Brandon came up huge for us right there,” Palumbo added. “It doesn’t get much bigger than that.”

Traverse City improved to 12-2-0 on the season and went a full nine points up on the third-place Phantoms (7-3-1). Team USA knocked off Motor City, 4-0, to move into sole possession of second place at 8-6-1. The Stars and Mahoning square off again tonight at 7 p.m., followed by a rare Sunday matinee at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow.

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