The Twin City Thunder gave the top team in the USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference all it could handle Friday, but it wasn’t quite enough to earn a victory.

The Thunder scored two third-period goals to force overtime, but the Jersey Hitmen scored twice in the shootout to come away with a 4-3 junior hockey win at the Advent Health Ice Center in Wesley Chapel, Florida.

“The boys really showed up and competed hard, obviously going up against the Hitmen, the first-place team, a team that only suffered (three) regulation losses all year,” Thunder assistant coach Cam Robichaud said. “The boys got up for the game and they were ready to come and compete to put forth a full 60-minute effort. Aand that’s what we saw, a good team effort, there wasn’t individual plays taking place.”

Daniel Ebrahim scored a goal and notched two assists, and Liam McLinskey and Steven Townley each had a goal and an assist for the Hitmen (29-3-4, 62 points).

The loss is the third in a row for the Thunder (10-14-2, 22 points).

Trailing 3-1, Twin City battled back in the third period. Noah Furman scored on a breakaway effort just past the nine-minute mark of the third stanza to cut the deficit to 3-2. Gabe Potyk and Valeri Rykov recorded the assists.

With a more than over four minutes to play in the third period, Twin City’s Hunter Schmitz tied game at 3-3 with an unassisted goal.

Furman had the Thunder’s best chance in the overtime session, as he had a half-empty net to shoot at, but Hitmen goalie Damon Beaver (27 saves) made a sprawling save to deny Furman.

“It was an unbelievable save. The pass comes to Furman, he doesn’t overhandle it, he makes a quick shot off the pass, which you want to see in tight (near the net),” Robichaud said. “The goaltender made a great push across, I think Furman put (the puck) a little towards the middle of the net, which he mentioned to me … as quick as he got it off, nine times out of 10 that’s in the back of the net.”

Ebrahim and Joshua Barnes scored for the Hitmen in the shootout, while Talon Sigurdson and Timur Alishlalov did not find the back of the net for the Thunder.

McLinskey, who has committed to play at Quinnipiac University, opened the scoring with his 17th goal of the season near the midway point of the first period on a power play. Ebrahim and Brandon Cimino had the assists.

Ebrahim, a Sacred Heart commit, scored an even-strength goal when he split the Thunder’s defense and fired the puck in past Thunder goalie Connor Leslie (34 saves). With four minutes remaining in the first period, the Hitmen led 2-0.

Less than a minute later, though, Gabe Potyk put the Thunder on the board, jamming the puck past Beaver for his 11th goal of the season.

Early in the second period, the Hitmen went on a five-minute power play after Zach Conner of the Thunder was called for a boarding major. Jersey capitalized on the man advantage, as Townley scored his 13th goal of the season for a 3-1 lead.

“I thought we did a great job killing the penalty, in the sense we were taking the puck from their power play, but unfortunately we did not clear the puck, we had four attempts to clear the puck and we did not get it out. … There’s so many times in a penalty kill that you can give the puck back to the opposition and it doesn’t end up in your net.”

Robichaud said that he thought the referees were going to call icing before Conner committed the penalty.

Jersey was 2-for-3 on the power play, while the Thunder were scoreless on three opportunities.

ANTONAKIS COMMITS TO UNE

Thunder defenseman Ryan Antonkis on Thursday announced that he committed to play at the University of New England next season.

The 5-foot-11 defenseman from Roseville, California, is in his first season with the Thunder. He has six assists in 21 games.

Antonakis becomes the second Twin City player to commit to the Nor’easters while the Thunder are in Florida this season, joining Noah Furman.

The Thunder also have had forward Nick Rashkovsky commit to Williams College and defenseman Jack Gilligan to Bowdoin College this season.


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