Over the past week, the Twin City Thunder have lost three games, all by one goal. The Thunder played a fourth one-goal game Thursday, but with a different result.

The Thunder defeated the Connecticut Junior Rangers 2-1 in a USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference game at the Presidents Cup Showcase at Foxboro Sports Center in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

“It was a tight game, and they were good defensively and took a lot of our opportunities away,” Thunder coach Dan Hodge said.

Hodge said tight hockey games will be the norm for the rest of the season, with the Thunder fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. The Thunder (19-15-5, 43 points), as of Thursday afternoon, have a two-point advantage over the Northern Cyclones (19-16-3, 41 points) for fourth place.

Connecticut (16-19-6, 38 points) is in last place in the South Division but sits three points out of a playoff spot in its division.

Dane Couture made 22 saves in goal for the Thunder, while Derek Manzella stopped 19 shots for Connecticut.


“Couture played fantastic; he made some great saves,” Hodge said. “(The Rangers) had some odd-man rushes that we addressed, but he made some really nice saves. They pulled their goalie with about a minute left and put a little bit of pressure, but he made some big saves to close the door.”

The Rangers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the middle of the first period, with Noah Melanson scoring his second goal of the season.

Connecticut’s lead only lasted a few minutes as Thunder defenseman Ben Monson scored on the power play to tie the game 1-1. His defensive partner Ryan Hintz and forward Dom Chasse had assists.

Hintz has been out for two months with an injury.

“Having Hintz back in the lineup only helps us. Obviously he was our top (defenseman) before he was injured,” Hodge said. “It’s good to have him back for the playoff push.”

Hintz will be taking part in the NCDC Young Guns All-Star game next Tuesday in Foxboro.

After a scoreless second period, Sam Stitz scored his 11th goal of the season 80 seconds into the third period for a 2-1 lead. Forward Matt Cole and Chasse had the assists.

“They are finding rebounds; it was a rebound off a shot,” Hodge said. “Cole had a swipe at it and (Manzella) made a nice save. Stitz carried the puck around (the net), and he put it in the net. That line is clicking at the right time and it’s always nice to have depth scoring; different lines contributing. We will need that going forward.”

The Thunder return to action Friday at the President’s Day Showcase against the Philadelphia Hockey Club at 5 p.m. and against the Rockets Hockey Club on Saturday at 10 a.m.

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