The Twin City Thunder celebrate the victory over the Connecticut Junior Rangers Friday at the Advent Health Center Ice Rink in Wesley Chapel, Florida.  Josh Boyd/USPHL

Ever since the Twin City Thunder arrived in Wesley Chapel, Florida, NCDC head coach Dan Hodge has wanted more goal-scoring and being able to hold a lead. On Friday, he got both as the Thunder scored four times in the third period for a 5-4 victory over the Connecticut Junior Rangers at the Advent Health Center Ice Rink.

The players heard Hodge’s message during the second intermission after the team recently gave up leads to the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs and the Junior Bruins.

“In between periods, down 4-1, I just old the guys ‘Hey, there’s nothing to talk about, we have to figure this out,'” Hodge said. “They came out hard in the third (period) obviously and we got an early goal there and we scored all those goals there in (the first) 10 minutes. It felt good being on the other side of it.”

Valeri Rykov scored the game-tying and go-ahead goals, while Bowdoin College commit Jack Gilligan had a goal and an assist and Gabe Potyk had three assists in the victory.

“Once we were able to get (the puck) in deep and able to get offense in their own zone, use the body, lay some hits, and establish ourselves physically those guys were able to (get going),” Hodge said. “Rykov (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) and Potyk (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) are two big kids, they are very strong and they take up a lot of room. When they establish themselves physically, it’s pretty good for us.”

The Thunder (8-11-1, 17 points) entered the third period down three goals. Tyler Fox scored three minutes into the period to start the comeback.

Connecticut Junior Rangers’ Liam Connors skates past Twin City Thunder forward Valeri Rykov Friday at the Advent Health Center Ice Rink in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Josh Boyd/USPHL

Potyk had assists on the next three goals, starting with Gilligan notching his fourth goal of the year 4:13 into the third period. Rykov tied the game up at four 90 seconds later, then gave the Thunder a 5-4 lead midway through the third period.

University of New England commit Noah Furman also had assisted on both Rykov goals.

The Thunder opened the scoring when Alex Rivet picked up his sixth goal of the game, with Gilligan notching the assist with six minutes remaining in the first period.

Connecticut (7-11-2, 16 points) responded quickly, as Reilly Connors tied the game with under five minutes remaining in the opening period, with Yale commit Henry Wagner and 2019 Maine Nordiques draft pick Jake Lanyi picking up the assists.

Early in the second period, Holy Cross commit Liam Connors gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

The Rangers scored two goals in a 40-second span, beginning with Jake Hughes picking up the goal and Reilly Connors and Reid Miller picking up the assists. Chase McInnis, a Northeastern commi, gave the Rangers a 4-1 lead. Miller and Wyatt Pastor had the assists.

“Late in the second we took four penalties in a row, just stick penalties, tripping, penalties you don’t want to take,” Hodge said. “They scored off a couple deflections, rebounds and we got sloppy in our (defensive zone).”

Devon Bobak made 18 saves for the Thunder while Derek Manezella stopped 16 shots for the Rangers.

The Thunder face the Philadelphia Hockey Club on Saturday at 7:45 p.m.


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