The Twin City Thunder opened the USPHL’s National Collegiate Development Conference season with a come-from-behind victory Saturday.

The Thunder scored twice in the third period for a 4-3 victory over the Junior Bruins at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

The Thunder entered the third period down 3-2 and a key penalty kill turned the momentum in their direction.

“They had a 5-on-3 power play in the third and we killed that off — we were able to use that to keep us going,” Thunder coach Dan Hodge said. “That kind of got us going.”

Twin City killed off all four of the Junior Bruins’ power plays.

Eddie Paulissian scored with 6:50 remaining in the period to tie the game at 3-3.

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Jonah Mortenson, the second-leading scorer (20 goals and 35 assists) of the Tampa Bay Juniors (USPHL Premier) last season, found the back of the net only 2:09 after Paulissian’s tally for the eventual game-winner.

“Paulissian scored that goal to tie it and then Jonah Mortensen went to the net hard to score the game-winner,” Hodge said. “It’s never an easy time against the Junior Bruins.”

Hodge said all four goals the Thunder scored were five feet from the net.

Trey Miller turned aside 14 shots in the third period for the Thunder. He made 47 saves in the game, and he was under attack early in the contest.

Alex Scimeca gave the Junior Bruins a 1-0 lead early in the first period.

The Junior Bruins took a 2-0 lead into the locker room when Shane Baker scored with 19 seconds remaining in the frame.

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Twin City had plenty of power play opportunities in the second period. The Thunder capitalized on their first opportunity of the season when second-year forward Trace Norwell found the back of the net with 15:21 remaining in the second period. Assists went to forward Ben Portner and defenseman Blake Tierney.

“Last year, I thought we struggled on the power play, and over the years,” Hodge said. “It was nice a pass, I believe (forward Ben) Portner, who found Tierney and got a shot through. Trace got the rebound. It was nice to get a power-play goal and hopefully kind of springboard us here.”

The Thunder were 1-for-4 on the man-advantage.

Baker restored a two-goal lead for the Bruins midway through the middle frame.

Forward Jackson Howell beat Bruins goalie Aidan Bickford with 4:05 remaining in the second period and the Junior Bruins took that 3-2 lead into the second intermission.

The teams meet again Sunday at 3:40 p.m. at the New England Sports Center.

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TIERNEY NAMED CAPTAIN

The Thunder announced Friday that Blake Tierney is the captain this season.

The 19-year-old native of Chicago, Illinois, had one goal and 13 assists in 33 games with the Thunder in 2021-22.

“Last year, he was a guy who was playing his best hockey at the end of the year, and he was strong defensively,” Hodge said. “He came in here (this season) as a leader and helped the guys — we have a lot of new guys. He’s been helping us teach everyone with (our) culture; he has been great.”

Hodge said assistant captains will be named next week.


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