Twin City Thunder’s Nick Rashkovsky pulls away from Jersey Hitmen’s Tyler Borsch during Saturday night’s hockey game in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

AUBURN — Saturday night was a memorable one for the Twin City Thunder.

They never trailed in a 3-2 victory over the Jersey Hitman at Norway Savings Bank Arena. The Hitmen dropped their first game in regulation as the first-place team in the USPHL’s National Colleigiate Development Conference is now 23-1-3.

The Thunder improve to 14-9-1.

Things appeared to be going the Hitmen’s way at the end of the second period.

Jersey controlled the play in the second period as they went to the man-advantage three times in the stanza. The only goal in the period came off a Thunder player’s skate and bounced into the goal for the Hitmen, tying the game at two.

Connor Tait was given credit for the goal that came with 1:42 remaining in the second period.

“It was nothing about the goal,” Thunder coach Doug Friedman said of the message in the second intermission. “It was about to moving forward, we had 20 minutes to win the game, we didn’t do that the night before.”

It was the Jeromey Rancourt-Zachary Desmarais-Fisher Shea line for the Thunder that changed the momentum back into Twin City’s favor. Specifically Rancourt and Desmarais almost got the go-ahead goal while the Thunder were shorthanded. They drew a hooking penalty on Josh Waters.

While the Thunder couldn’t convert on the power play, the line continued to generate chances. Rancourt missed on a partial breakaway.

Both teams were 0-for-5 on the power play.

Rancourt was the hero with 4:18 remaining, as he beat Hitmen goalie Gavin Abric glove-side.

“My luck of scoring hasn’t been too great this year,” Rancourt said. “The boys joke with me, even in practice when I am not scoring, I have to get the monkey off my back once in a while. That goal didn’t just happen by me, it happened because of everybody on the line.”

The final four minutes of the game highlighted Alexander Kozic, the Thunder goalie who made 41 saves including a big one with 55 seconds remaining.

“The puck bounced in the middle on a scrappy play and the guy took a shot, but not the best shot possible,” Kozic said.

That was the last big save he had to make.

His counterpart, Abric, made 20 saves.

The game started like it did Friday night for the Thunder as a hardworking play led to a goal early on. The Thunder beat out an icing, a Thunder player got nailed in the corner and a power play was coming up for the Thunder, but Mathieu Lapierre fired the puck short-side past Abric.

The goal came two and half minutes in. Twin City couldn’t convert on the ensuing power play.

The Hitmen tied the game just past the eight-minute mark as the Thunder double-teamed Hitmen forward Connor Lind with a hit as he entered the offensive zone. Micky Burns picked up the puck for the Hitmen and found Liam McLinskey all alone at the left circle to put the puck in.

Despite the Hitmen out-shooting the Thunder 16-6 in the opening period, it was Twin City who took a 2-1 lead into the intermission. Christian Bloomquist crashed the net and jammed home the puck past Abric.

A scuffle for control of the puck ensues between Twin City Thunder’s Tristan Mock, Jersey Hitmen’s LJ Stachowski, Christian Brune, Twin City Thunder’s Nick Rashkovsky and Jersey Hitmen’s Jonathan Morrison during Saturday night’s hockey game in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Twin City Thunder’s Finn Walker continues on with the puck after Jersey Hitmen’s Tristan Frese falls to the ice during Saturday night’s hockey game in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Twin City Thunder’s Adam Svensson and Jersey Hitmen’s Casey Rhodes vie for control of the puck during Saturday night’s hockey game in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal


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