Saturday, April 24, 2010

Traverse City advances to Robertson Cup

The Traverse City North Stars made history on Friday night at the Kennedy Recreation Center in Trenton, knocking off the Motor City Metal Jackets by a 5-3 margin to sweep the best-of-five NAHL North Division Finals and advance to the Robertson Cup for the first time in the team's five-year run.

Tim Opie and Doug Clifford had a goal and an assist each and Drew Strandberg made 27 saves to spark the North Stars in their series finale, and sending them to Wenatchee, Wash., for a shot at the Tier II national championship.

“It was a pretty good team win – we got goals from a lot of different places and very good goaltending again,” said Traverse City head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “We’re absolutely very happy to be on our way to the Robertson Cup. We’re going to enjoy it. It’s a huge victory, but at the same time, like I reminded the guys after (Friday’s game), we don’t want this to be our biggest win. We don’t want to be happy just to go out there. We want to go out there and try to win some more games.”

Chris Salomone got things started for the visitors on Friday, sticking a backhander past Metal Jackets goalie Phil Graveline with 7:08 left in the first period. Just over a minute later, Opie snapped off a precision wrister from the left face-off circle to make it 2-0. Strandberg kept the advantage intact heading into the first intermission with a pair of point-blank saves in the waning seconds of the period.

Clifford opened the second period with a power play goal 4:34 in, taking a drop pass at the blue line, skating in on Graveline, and fitting the puck just under the crossbar for a three-goal bulge.

Motor City got on the scoreboard a little more than two minutes later, but Kyle Jean intercepted a pass deep in the Jackets’ zone, drew Graveline from the crease, and found the back of the net with a forehanded wrist shot. A power play goal for the hosts cut the deficit to 4-2 with 2:19 left in the middle frame, but Garrett Thompson issued a response a scant 32 seconds later to restore the cushion.

Motor City offered a last-gasp marker with 5:20 to play in the game, but Strandberg and the Stars defensive unit applied the clamps down the stretch to seal the conquest.

Traverse City won a sixth consecutive postseason contest on Friday in claiming a second straight postseason sweep, and outscored their first- and second-round foes by a combined 27-6.

“It’s a group of guys who are really playing well right now,” Palumbo explained. “They’re playing a team game, and really seem to love each other. They wanted something and they’ve been able to achieve part of that so far. We’ve enjoyed it, and it should be a pretty awesome experience for the guys.”

The five-team Robertson Cup tournament gets underway at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee on May 4. After a four-day round-robin, the top two teams will play for the Cup on May 9.

“We don’t know who we’ll play or when we’ll play yet, some of that should come together by Sunday,” Palumbo said. “We’ll have some film to watch.”

Photo by John L. Russell/Great Lakes Images

1 comment:

Kyle Caruso said...

Hi - looking to get a direct email address to forward Metal Jackets information to this blog site. My name is Kyle Caruso and I serve the team as Operations Manager. Thanks!