AUBURN — Twin City Thunder coach Dan Hodge said that right now is crunch time for the team’s hopes of making the USPHL NCDC playoffs.

The Thunder helped their chances by earning a much-needed two points in a 2-1 victory over the Northern Cyclones at Norway Savings Bank Arena on Monday.

“We are 13 games left in the season; we can’t afford to drop any more (games),” Hodge said. “We need to get points in every game, and we tried to keep it simple and play simple hockey. I thought it worked out pretty well for us.”

The Thunder had lost five straight games.

Twin City (16-18-3, 35 points) is tied for sixth in the North Division and is six points back of the fourth and final playoff spot, which is held by the Junior Bruins (15-21-6, 36 points). The Cyclones (23-10-4, 50 points) are currently in second.

Both goalies, Trey Miller of the Thunder and Pavel Grishin of the Cyclones put on a goaltending showcase, each turning aside 32 shots.


“Defensively, I thought we did a good job; they let me see the first shot,” Miller said. “It made my job easier than it could have been.”

After killing off their first penalty, the Thunder took a 1-0 lead when Tristan Rand jammed home the puck in the slot. Ben Portner and Cullen McCormick recorded the assists on the goal at the 12:25 mark.

The Thunder peppered Grishin in the second period and forced him to make a couple of point-blank saves. Lewiston native Dom Chasse deflected a shot attempt from James Tatro past Grishin for a power play goal in the final minute of the second period that put Twin City up 2-0.

Gavin Bloder scored a wrap-around attempt on the man advantage 13:15 into the third period to get the Cyclones on the board.

Mille said he wasn’t as close to the post as he should have been in that situation.

“When he came behind around the net, I missed my spot a little bit,” Miller said. “I was a little too far forward and left a little hole there.”


The Cyclones had a couple of chances in the final two minutes of the game, but shots by Paden Hicks and Marko Giourof were stopped by Miller.

“Two of our leading scorers had the puck on their stick, and they couldn’t finish,” Cyclones coach Bill Flanagan said.

Chasse had a chance to add an insurance goal for the Thunder in the final seconds, but the puck hit the post.

“Unfortunately, Dom missed the net — but he did score the game-winner, so we will give him a pass,” Hodge said.

The Thunder visits the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs on Wednesday at 11:40 a.m.



• Thunder leading-scorer Trace Norwell committed on Sunday to play college hockey at Tufts University. The 20-year-old has 20 goals and 18 assists this season.

The Jumbos are currently 6-13-1 this season and ninth in the NESCAC standings. Norwell becomes the second Thunder player to commit to a NESCAC school for next season, joining Ricky Davis, who will be attending Bowdoin.

Norwell said he wanted to be around the Boston area for his schooling

“I really like the location, and I liked the appeal of the engineering program — Tufts has both,” Norwell said. “They also have an unbelievable hockey team, so it was the trifecta for me.”

• Norwell will be one of two Thunder players participating in the NCDC All-Star game on Feb. 21 in Foxboro, Massachusetts, along with Lewiston native Nick Pomerleau. Pomerleau is Twin City’s top-scoring defenseman with four goals and 17 assists.

Forwards Nolan Leonard and Ben Portner will represent the Thunder in the NCDC Prospects game on Feb. 21 in Foxboro. Portner has three goals and 13 assists. Leonard has three goals and 10 assists.

“Nick has been playing really well and is getting some points,” Hodge said. “It’s nice for Nick because he had a decision to make in the summer: go to school or come back. He took the leap of faith to come here and I am happy for him. (Portner) and (Leonard) are having good years as rookies, I am glad to see them get noticed as well.”

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