Thursday, May 06, 2010

Traverse City dropped by Bandits

The Traverse City North Stars led Wednesday’s contest against St. Louis for exactly 1:02.

For the rest of the NAHL Robertson Cup second-day affair, the Bandits and zebras were in control.

The three-time defending Robertson Cup champions were afforded a whopping 11 power play opportunities and converted four times in a 4-1 victory over the North Stars at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Wash.

“We weren’t ready to play,” admitted Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “We were flat after a big win and St. Louis came out fired up after a big loss. It was a major letdown. They played well and we didn’t.”

Kelin Ainsworth provided Traverse City with its short-lived advantage, registering the only even-strength goal of the afternoon 11:25 into the first period. Tim Opie and Doug Clifford assisted.

From there, St. Louis racking up the next four goals – including a rejoinder to Ainsworth’s marker a little more than a minute later. The Bandits opened (1:04 in) and closed (2:08 to go) the second period with man-advantage scores and asserted an insurance marker with 4:50 remaining in the game to secure the victory.

“I think you can say our backs are against the wall at this point,” Palumbo said. “You probably have to have wins in three of the four round-robin games to get to (the championship game) Sunday.”

The North Stars will look to rebound on Thursday, when they face Bismarck on the third day of Robertson Cup round-robin action. The Bobcats clobbered St. Louis on Tuesday by an 8-5 margin and had their off-day on Wednesday.

“They’re rested, they beat the team that just beat us, and they’re possibly the most dangerous team in the tournament,” Palumbo said. “If we don’t come out with the same jump we had on Wednesday, it’ll be pretty tough to get it done.”

Once again, Chris Paliafito relieved Drew Strandberg in net for the North Stars, working the final period after Strandberg succumbed to a nagging leg issue. The tandem combined for 35 saves as the Bandits outshot TC by a 39-21 chasm.

The Stars and Bobcats will face-off in Wednesday’s evening game, closing out the third day of the five-day round-robin with a 7:05 p.m. PT/10:05 p.m. ET showdown. Traverse City will close out their go-round on Friday against Fairbanks, seeking one of the two Robertson Cup final berths. The title contest in set for Sunday.

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