The Twin City Thunder got a first-hand look at Rockets Hockey Club’s offensive firepower Thursday.

The Rockets scored five times in the first period as they defeated the Thunder 9-2 in a USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference contest at the Advent Health Center in Wesley Chapel, Florida.

“I would say they are the most consistent team in the league right now,” Thunder assistant coach Cam Robichaud said. “They have beaten the (Jersey) Hitmen, they have beaten the (Junior) Bruins, they beat the South Shore Kings yesterday. (All those) teams are top teams in the league, (and) they have beaten (them) as of late.”

Sam Lipkin, a 18-year-old Quinnipiac University recruit, netted four goals and an assist and Johnny Wescoe scored two goals for the Rockets, who have a record of 30-3-4.

Lipkin set up Rockets HC’s first goal, as Nicholas Chiocca opened the scoring five and half minutes into the game. On the same shift, Lipkin notched his first goal of the contest, with Clark Kerner recording the first of his three assists in the period.

Wescoe then tallied back-to-back goals, upping his total to 18 on the season.

Wescoe’s second goal ended Devon Bobak’s (four saves) day in net for the Thunder (11-15-2, 24 points). Bobak was replaced by Connor Leslie (12 saves).

With six-plus minutes left before the first intermission, Lipkin finished off Rockets HC’s five-goal first period.

“We didn’t learn from the first time playing them, in having a slow start,” Robichaud said. “We let in three quick goals the last time and we let in five goals (this time) to a really intense, fast, competitive team. They competed extremely well and they are quick to get on you.

“We couldn’t weather the storm, it was like a snowball effect and I don’t think we were very good defensively in the first period.”

The second period started with the Thunder on a penalty kill, and Rockets HC and its top-ranked power play (29.1% entering Thursday’s game) went to work. Lipkin finished off a tic-tack-toe play, during which all five players on the ice touched the puck, for his hat trick goal.

Rockets HC went 2-for-5 on the power play, while the Thunder were scoreless on three chances.

Twin City finally found the back of the net on a Colton Friesen shot that went in the net and bounced out so fast that the referees missed it at first. At the next stoppage of play, they got together and ruled it a goal.

Kerner found the back of the net for Rockets HC with five minutes remaining in the second period. Former Thunder standout Christian Blomquist, who started the year with the New Jersey Titians of the North American Hockey League before being released and then signing with the Rockets, had one of the assists.

Tristan Thibeault beat O’Donnell in the slot with a slap shot past Rockets goalie Matthew O’Connell (27 saves) to score the Thunder’s second goal late in the second period. Nathan Chickering assisted on the goal, which is the first for Thibeault, who played for the Maine Nordiques last year, since he joined the Thunder earlier this month.

“Our fourth line was a plus-one, which is impressive in a game you let up nine goals,” Robichaud said. “They did not allow any goals and they scored once. You can’t ask more from that unit that was playing in a fourth-line role today. In that regard, they were excellent.”

Ryan Leonard added Rockets’ eighth goal in the third period, and Lipkin scored his fourth of the game on a 2-on-1 break to cap off the scoring.

FURMAN HONORED

Twin City’s Noah Furman earned NCDC honors as the co-forward of the week after tallying two goals and two assists in two games.

The University of New England commit has six goals and 21 assists in 28 games.

Furman shares the honor with Ryan Willett of the P.A.L. Islanders, who had two goals and six assists in three games.

NORDIQUES ADD DEFENSEMAN

The Maine Nordiques continue to bolster their defense with the acquisition of Joey Foss from the St. Cloud Norsemen of the NAHL North Division.

The 20-year-old from Elks River, Minnesota, had an assist in eight games this season with the Norseman. Last year with the Minnesota Magicians, also of the NAHL, he scored two goals and had 14 assists in 47 games.

Foss also played 12 games with Odessa Jackalopes of the South Division in 2018-19, recording an assist in 12 games, prior to his high school season. During that high school season, he netted five goals and 15 assists in 27 games with Elks River.

“Joey is a veteran presence on the blue line who brings more NAHL experience to our already outstanding (defensive) group. His size and dependability will provide our group with more confidence to make a deep playoff run, with the ultimate goal of winning a Robertson Cup,” Nordiques assistant coach Dan Bogdan said in a Nordiques release.

The Nordiques previously acquired 2000-born defenseman Hunter Carrick last weekend from the Jackalopes and added 2002-born Luke Busby in January.


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