Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 6, 2010

James Cook: Stars on the verge

By JAMES COOK

Bo Jacobs better be ready on Friday.

After Saturday's second straight beatdown by the Traverse City North Stars, Janesville coach Dane Litke said the team needed something to spark the team -- a goal, a big hit or a fight.

Since the first one is certainly not a certainty and the second could put the Stars on the power play, a fight early in Friday's Game 3 seems the best bet.

Jacobs is TC's designated fighter, so he should watch out when the puck drops. He also drilled the Jets' Larkin Jacobson late in Saturday's contest, sending the Janesville forward over the boards and into TC's bench area.

The Stars outscored the Jets 11-1 over the weekend to take a 2-0 series lead across the pond to Wisconsin. The Jets will have to dramatically improve to make a return trip to Michigan before next season.

This is the same Janesville team that took three of four from Traverse City at Centre ICE during the regular season.

Well, not exactly the same team.

The Jets of the regular season had a winning road record and were 29-23-6 overall.

The Jets that came into Centre ICE last weekend looked nothing like a winning team, and as a result were picked apart by Traverse City on both ends of the ice to the tune of a 72-44 advantage in shots on goal in the home team's favor.

Both coaches are waiting to see the real Jets appear.

Litke needs it to happen, and the Stars' Anthony Palumbo is OK if it doesn't.

Janesville's power-play has been totally stymied by Traverse City, going 0-for-9 in the series' first two games.

The Stars, however, also haven't struck with the advantage, going 0-for-6. While that isn't a positive, it just goes to show how much TC has dominated the series so far when at even strength.

While Janesville is hosting its first-ever playoff game on Friday, the Stars will have the opportunity to clinch its first postseason series and move on to the division finals against either Motor City or Marquette.

The matchup pits celebrity co-owners against each other. San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski is a part owner of the Jets, while former Detroit Red Wing forward Dallas Drake is among the Stars' ownership.

Pavelski has won state, USHL and NCAA titles and an Olympic silver medal, but Drake has a Stanley Cup ring (and an NCAA title, too).

Traverse City could also have top-pairing defenseman Chris Heineman back from a concussion sustained in Game 1, although Curtis Heinz played well in his place in Saturday's 4-0 shutout -- the only blanking in the NAHL's 17 postseason games this season.

On second thought, a fight might not be the answer the Jets are looking for.

They got one early in Game 1 -- between Mike Thompson and TC's Kelin Ainsworth -- and went on to lose 7-1.

Maybe they need to stick to option No. 1 first: Scoring a goal.