Twin City Thunder defenseman Zack Connor checks Jersey Hitmen forward Luke Aquaro Wednesday morning in a NCDC contest at Advent Health Center Ice Rink in Wesley Chapel, Florida Josh Boyd/USPHL

In the first eight regular season games in Wesley Chapel, Florida the Twin City Thunder averaged 32.75 shots per game coming into Wednesday’s game with the Jersey Hitmen.

The Hitmen limited the Thunder to 22 shots – their lowest total so far in Florida – en route to a 5-1 victory at the Advent Health Center  in a National Collegiate Development Conference contest.

Eleven of the 22 shots for the Thunder came in the third period. The Hitmen had 42 shots on goal.

“We really somehow, someway got away what got us successful the last three, four or five games of getting shots to the net and getting second and third opportunities,” Thunder NCDC coach Dan Hodge said. “Honestly, it was one of those games where every change we try to make, we couldn’t execute. Whether it’s we are fatigued or the early morning start (or the second day) in a row. Whatever it was it was a bad game for us. But the Hitmen are a good team and that’s where we want to be.”

Jersey, which leads the South Division with a 24-1-3 record had eight NCAA Division I recruits in the lineup, was led by Dartmouth College commit Steven Townley had two goals while Sean Melso had a goal and an assist.

Nathan Chickering of the Twin City Thunder checks Jersey Hitmen’s captain Patrick Keegan into the boards Wednesday morning at the Advent Health Center Ice Rink in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Josh Boyd/USPHL

The Hitmen jumped out to a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game as Alex Mozian found the back of the net with Harrison Bazianos and Jin Lee picking up the assists.

Jersey extended the lead 65 seconds into the second period when Sean Melso beat Connor Leslie (42 saves) with St. Lawrence commit Isaac MacLeod setting the goal up.

Nearly 45 seconds later, Gabe Malek cut the deficit in half for the Thunder (7-11-1, 15 points, seventh in the North Division) as he picked up his first goal of the season with Nick Rashkovsky and Tyler Fox each having an assist.

“He’s starting to come around, he scored a nice goal today,” Hodge said of Malek. “He has a wicked shot, he can rip it and he’s a guy that we look forward to see what he can do in the future.”

Malek has recorded a point in four straight games as he had an assist in his previous three games.

Patrick Keegan extended the Hitmen lead to 3-1 just past the seven-minute mark of the middle frame as he beat Thunder goalie Connor Leslie (42 saves).

It was a power play goal. The Hitmen were 1-for-2 with an extra attacker while the Thunder went 0-for-3.

Melso added his second point of the morning as he had an assist on Townley’s first goal in the opening two minutes of the third period. Brandon Cimino also had an assist. Townley added his second goal of the game with under six minutes remaining in the game. MacLeod added his second assist while Dylan Lugris also had an assist.

Chase Clark stopped 21 of 22 shotss in the win.

The Thunder hit the midway point in their six-week stay in Florida on Friday as they face the Connecticut Jr. Rangers in their 10th game of 20 games in Florida.


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