Two newly acquired players set the pace as Rockets Hockey Club skated past the Twin City Thunder on Thursday.

Sam Lipkin, who recently turned 18, and 17-year-old Jake Bongo each scored twice for Rockets HC in a 4-3 USPHL NCDC victory at the Advent Health Center in Wesley Chapel, Florida.

Lipkin, who is committed to play at Quinnipiac University, started the season with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League, appearing in six games. Thursday was his was the second game with Rockets HC. Bongo, a Sacred Heart recruit who was initially planning to play prep hockey this season, was appearing in his sixth game with Rockets.

The Thunder fell behind 3-0 in the first period. They fought back over the next two periods but not enough to earn two points.

“You look at the game, we lost the first period 3-0, we won the second period 2-1 and the third period 1-0,” Thunder coach Dan Hodge said. “No one likes moral victories, but I give our guys credit battling hard and not folding when we were down 3-0.”

Bongo opened the scoring for Rockets HC (17-1-3, 37 points) with a goal nearly seven minutes into the contest.

Lipkin then scored back-to-back goals four minutes apart to make the lead 3-0 after 20 minutes.

“We came out real sloppy and slow; we weren’t ready to go in the first 20 (minutes),” Hodge said. “We kind of watched and they are a good hockey team, they are fast, they move the puck well and they were able to move around us and control that first period.”

The Thunder (5-7-0, 10 points) started to battle back in the second frame. The top line put them on the board when Gabe Potyk potted his fifth goal of the season off a Nick Rashkovsky assist. A pair of Lewiston natives helped the second line continue its hot start in Florida, as Dominic Chasse set up Alex Rivet for his third goal of the season.

Rockets HC regained a two-goal advantage when Bongo scored his second of the game with 16 seconds remaining in the second period on a power play.

Jack Gilligan scored a power play goal for Twin City 6:45 into the third period. Valeri Rykov and Rivet had the assists.

The Rockets HC were 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Thunder went 1-for-3.

Hodge said Thursday’s game, which started at 8:15 a.m., should provide the Thunder a learning experience about early-morning puck drops.

“It’s one of those things where you’re not used to an 8:15 start and getting to the rink by 6:45 (a.m.),” Hodge said. “It’s good to know what’s ahead of us, we have a couple of more of these early-morning games. I told the guys after the game this is kind of what you have to expect.”

Twin City plays again Friday at 12:30 p.m. against the PAL Islanders.

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