The Twin City Thunder season ended last year at the hands of the Jersey Hitmen in the National Collegiate Development Conference semifinals. The Thunder got some revenge Saturday.

The Thunder picked up its first victory of the 2021-22 campaign with a 5-3 win over the Hitmen as part of the Jr. Bruins Shootout showcase at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

“We are excited to get a win,” Twin City Thunder coach Dan Hodge said. “We played really well, and our goaltender Dane Couture was really good and made some big saves for us. We played really well as a team. It’s always good to beat the defending champs and get a win on the board.”

Forward Tristan Rand scored his first three goals of the season to propel the Thunder offensively. Defenseman Jack Anderson had two assists.

Rand put the Thunder up 1-0 late in the first period, beating Hitmen goalie Peyton Grainer (23 saves) with a shorthanded goal.

Rand extended the lead to 2-0 early in the second period, with Artem Kazakov setting the goal up.

“We didn’t score any goals against the Jr. Bruins (last Saturday); it was nice to get two on the board to get ourselves going, to get confidence,” Hodge said. “It’s good to get every line contributing, and it’s good (Rand) put a couple in.”

The Hitmen scored two quick goals later in the second period to tie the game. Forward Patriks Marcinkevics — the twin brother of Maine Nordiques forward Dominks Marcinkevics — put Jersey on the board.

Mateo Dixon tied the game 2-2 for the Hitmen.

Both were power-play goals and facing a cold goaltender. Couture (29 saves) had a skate blade break, so he had to come out of the game, and Owen Carlson (two saves) came from the bench to replace him.

“(Carlson) was the lucky one to go in on the 5-on-3 and unfortunately he got hung out to dry,” Hodge said. “It’s hard sitting on the bench for a period and a half and go out there facing the Hitmen on a 5-on-3 power play.”

Once Couture got a new skate blade, he returned to the crease after missing nearly six minutes and was able finish the game.

In the first minute of the third period, Nathan Chickering scored to put the Thunder up 3-2 on the power play. Defensemen Anderson and Ryan Hintz had the assists. Steven Armstrong gave the Thunder a two-goal cushion later in the period, with Hintz and Harrison Dumas recording assists.

Jersey quickly responded after Armstrong’s goal, with Vincent Gould scoring his second goal of the season to cut the deficit to 4-3.

Rand picked up the hat trick with an empty-net goal in the final two minutes of the game.

The Thunder return to the ice Sunday at the Jr. Bruins shootout at 6:40 p.m. to take on the Connecticut Jr. Rangers.


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