Wednesday, November 25, 2009

North Stars host Alpena tonight

The Traverse City North Stars won’t have to go over the river and through the woods to get to their holiday weekend hockey smorgasbord, but after an unscheduled 10-day layoff, it’ll be a happy homecoming on Wednesday at Centre ICE nonetheless.

The Stars and Alpena IceDiggers have been off since Nov. 14 following respective bouts of sickness that forced the postponement of their schedule contest last Friday. They’ll go at it again on Saturday at Centre ICE and Sunday in Alpena to wrap the three-game set.

“We’ve played just four games since Oct. 25,” Traverse City head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo pointed out. “I’d say we’re ready to play, and they’re probably feeling the same way. It’ll be good to get out there and get it going again.”

The IceDiggers snapped a four-game skid in their last outing with a 3-2 win at Motor City, and presently reside in fifth place in the NAHL North Division at 6-15-0. The North Stars are riding a six-game winning streak into the weekend, and sit atop the North at 14-4-1, three points ahead of second-place Marquette. TC has won both meetings so far this season, sweeping a Nov. 6-7 series from the Diggers.

“One thing I think we learned playing them last time was that they’re going to play hard,” Palumbo said. “They’ve got a lot of talent on their roster, a lot of veterans and newcomers who are contributing right off the bat. We’ll have to be prepared to play at their tempo and then some.”

The North Stars reprised their annual Thanksgiving Eve contest this season after playing in the NAHL North Showcase in 2008, and are 2-1 in the three previous such affairs. Traverse City knocked off Alpena by a 6-1 margin in 2007 on the strength of a Nate Urbaniak hat trick, and a 2-1 count in 2006 as hometown product Mike Glaesmer bagged a goal and an assist. The U.S. National Team Development Program’s Under-18 squad, led by current NHL star Patrick Kane, scored a 5-1 victory on turkey eve in 2005.

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