AUBURN — Twin City Thunder forward Trace Norwell likes to let the goals come to him by parking himself right in front of the crease.

Norwell’s strategy resulted in two goals Wednesday in a 4-2 win over the Boston Advantage in the Thunder’s 2022-23 home opener at Norway Savings Bank Arena.

“I have the easy job, and my linemates (Richard Davis and Hunter Young) are obviously spectacular; they had some great shots,” Norwell said. “The defensemen gave them some good looks. I just have to stand there and, occasionally, the puck will come to me.”

Norwell now has eight goals this season, which leads the USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference. His 12 points rank second in the league.

Norwell’s first goal opened the scoring early in the first period and gave the Thunder (6-3, 12 points) a 1-0 lead.

After that goal, Boston (4-3, 8 points) took control of the game through puck possession and applying pressure in its offensive zone.


The Advantage tied the game off an offensive zone faceoff by Jacob Bigras to defenseman Zachary Jesse. Jesse then dished the puck to forward Ethan Beaumont, whose slap shot beat Thunder goalie Christopher Jackson (20 saves) for a power-play goal with about four minutes remaining in the first period.

Twin City’s top line regained the lead when Hunter Young and Richard Davis skated into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1. Young, skating on the right side, slid the puck in the slot to Davis, who was on the left. Davis’ snap shot hit the middle bar inside the net for a 2-1 advantage with three minutes remaining in the first period.

“It was a nice play by Young to make a move at the blue line and get wide to feed it over to Davis,” Thunder coach Dan Hodge said. “That was a great shot (by Davis).”

Both teams killed off a penalty early in the second period.

Norwell scored his second goal of the game on the power play when Advantage goalie Nicholas Bevilaqua (22 saves) stopped the initial shot from Davies and Norwell put home the rebound with 12 minutes remaining in the second period for a 3-1 lead. Defenseman Kadsen Johnson had the secondary assist on the goal.

“When you lose like a top guy (Chance Heaphy), who logs a lot of penalty kill minutes, you have guys in roles they aren’t used to being in,” Boston Advantage coach Dan Szerlip said. “It’s our job as coaches to get them ready for those roles. When we come up here, we are in the box the whole time, anyway — we kind of expected that.”


Heaphy, the captain of the Advantage, left the game after the first period with an injury and did not return.

The Thunder killed off two more penalties in the middle of the second period.

Nolan Leonard stretched Twin City’s lead to 4-1 with another power-play goal. Bevilaqua stopped Leonard’s initial shot but Leonard put in the second-chance opportunity with about eight minutes remaining in the third period. Johnson earned another assist and forward Eddie Paulissian also was credited with an helper.

“(Leonard) had two shots at it. I think the first (opportunity) he may have whiffed at it,” Hodge said. “(The puck) was sitting right there for his first (NCDC) goal. He has worked hard and had opportunities — I am glad he found that (goal).”

Luke Panchisin scored a later power-play goal in the third period for the Advantage. Bigras recorded his second assist, while Michael Woll earned his first.

Boston went 2 for 5 on the power play. The Thunder went 2 for 3.

The Thunder will take on the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (6-3) on Saturday at Norway Savings Bank Arena at 5 p.m. Both teams are currently tied for first place in the North Division with 12 points.

Norwell said the team chemistry has helped the Thunder get off to a good start to the season.

“We are a really close team and we have guys who (skate) well,” Norwell said. “Our young guys are spectacular and are picking the (junior hockey game) up. They are filling big shoes early on in the season (of players who moved on from last year’s team). They are helping us a lot.”

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