After winning both of their games last week, the Twin City Thunder started Super Bowl week in Wesley Chapel, Florida — 23 miles north of Tampa — with a 4-2 loss to the Northern Cyclones in a USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference contest Monday.

“We had a slow start in the first and second period, and I made some line combination adjustments going into the third,” Thunder acting coach Alex Drulia said. “I think that started the offense going, but it wasn’t enough to get the two points.”

Massimo Pietroniro scored a goal and had two assists to pace the Cyclones (9-10-2, 20 points).

After a scoreless first period, the Cyclones got on the board first, about eight minutes into the second period, when Massimo Pietroniro scored his fifth goal of the season. Kris Pietroniro and Chris Tamer had assists on the goal.

With 14 seconds remaining in the second period, Preston Park scored to stretch the Cyclones’ advantage to 2-0.

Then, a little past the eight-minute mark of the third period, Northern’s David Wilcox beat Thunder goalie Connor Leslie (30 saves) and scored off a faceoff win by Massimo Pietroniro, making the lead 3-0.

The Thunder (10-13-1, 21 points) ended Cyclones goalie Jed Baliotti’s shutout bid when defenseman Zach Connor scored off a rush midway through the third period.

Drulia said after the game that the Thunder didn’t make Baliotti (23 saves), who has committed to play at the University of New Hampshire, work hard enough throughout the game. Baliotti recently joined the Cyclones from the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League.

“Obviously, with a new goaltender you haven’t seen, we need to do a better job to get shots on net,” Drulia said. “We didn’t test him that much. But you have to give the Cyclones credit, they play a heavy, physical game. Obviously, our guys shied away from their game today.”

Drulia said thought the Thunder tried to stickhandle too much in the first two periods instead of making the simple plays.

Massimo Pietroniro notched his second assist as Brennan Dickey’s goal stretched the Cyclones’ lead to 4-1 with a little over seven minutes remaining in the third period.

Troy Ladka added the Thunder’s second goal with three minutes remaining in the game. Recent additions Timur Alishlalov and Eamon Doheny had the assists.

Both teams were scoreless on the power play.

The Thunder return to action on Wednesday at 8 a.m. against P.A.L. Islanders.


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