AUBURN — Twin City’s veterans stepped up to help the Thunder secure the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division in the USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference playoffs.

Tristan Rand scored his second goal of the game 17 seconds into overtime, lifting the Thunder to a 5-4 victory over the Boston Advantage in the North Division play-in game Wednesday at Norway Savings Bank Arena.

Twin City will take on the top-seeded Northern Cyclones in the North semifinals in a three-game series this weekend, starting Friday at 1 p.m. The Cyclones will host each game at Cyclones Arena in Hudson, New Hampshire.

“It was a battle all the way through,” Rand said of Wednesday’s game. “We were hot, our line was going. In the first period, we were playing well and we kept going all the way through (the game).”

Rand buried the game-winner after receiving a pass from forward Nolan Leonard.

“I was below the (defense) and (Leonard) got the puck and slid it down,” Rand said. “I took the shot and the goalie was sliding over while I was moving. I was lucky to get it in.”


All five Thunder goals were scored by 2002-born players — who are in their final season of junior hockey eligibility. Trace Norwell also potted a pair of goals, and Ricky Davis scored the other.

Norwell said that, as veterans, the 2002-born players needed to be leaders in Wednesday’s do-or-die game.

“Fortunately, we went through this a couple of times, and we all kind of understood we need to lead the younger guys and kind of help out, almost take the game in our hands a little bit,” Norwell said.

Norwell and Rand were a part of last year’s team, which lost to the Boston Jr. Bruins in three games in the semifinals.

Thunder coach Dan Hodge said that Rand has found his scoring touch lately.

“It’s great to see those guys show up. We are a team, we play as a team first, but … Rand has been snake bitten all year. I am glad to see him score some goals here at the end (of the regular season),” Hodge said. “I am really happy for him.”


Rand only scored six goals in the regular season, but four came in the past week, two in a win against the Advantage last Wednesday and two more on Saturday in the win over the Cyclones.

Early in the third period, Norwell flipped the puck past Advantage goalie Nicholas Bevilacqua, after an initial shot by Davis, tying the game 3-3.

Norwell later gave Twin City its first lead, 4-3, midway through the third. He was initially knocked down to his knees during his wind-up for a shot attempt. That caused Bevilacqua to flinch in anticipation of an incoming shot, and Norwell, sliding on his knees, regained control of the puck and shot it past Bevilacqua.

“It was a fortunate bounce. I was able to get something on net when the goalie wasn’t ready for it,” Norwell said. “Luckily enough, it found the back of the net. It was a great play by (Cullen McCormick) getting it down to me, and (James Tatro) won the board battle down low. Overall, it was a good team goal.”

Chance Heaphy kept Boston alive when he deked out Thunder goalie Christopher Jackson (28 saves) 14:29 into the third period.

The Thunder had a couple of chances to take break the tie in the final minute in the third, but Bevilacqua made a stop each time to send the game into overtime.


The Advantage scored the game’s first goal following a physical first five minutes of the opening period, when Yahor Ramanau shot the puck past the Thunder’s starting goalie, Trey Miller (11 saves), for a 1-0 lead at the 5:30 mark into the first period.

Twin City had the game’s first power play, but Bevilacqua (42 saves) made two saves on Grade-A chances by the Thunder. A few seconds after Heaphy got out of the box for a cross-checking penalty, Rand put home a rebound of a Nicholas Pomerleau to get Twin City on the board nearly 15 minutes into the first.

The game didn’t remain tied for long. Boston’s Alexander Keller potted a goal 16:44 into the first period, with Aatu Moisanen notching the assist.

Hodge said that he and assistant coach Cam Robichaud “didn’t think we played very well in the first. We kind of watched — it was 2-1, we felt lucky to escape that period 2-1. We told our guys, ‘We are in great shape, we worked hard all year.’ I thought our conditioning paid off for us.”

Hodge decided to make a goalie change, and Jackson relieved Miller at the start of the second period.

Twin City’s James Tatro nearly tied the contest on a power play early in the second period, but Bevilacqua got his blocker on the shot to keep the score at 2-1.


The Thunder were 1 for 5 on the power play, while the Advantage went 1 for 4.

Davis, who has been recruited to play at Bowdoin College, scored a power-play goal on the Thunder’s third man-advantage of the contest. Norwell found him with a cross-ice pass, and Davis ripped a slap shot from the right circle into the net 7:48 into the second period. Damon Bossie also recorded an assist on the goal.

An unfortunate bounce helped the Advantage to take a 3-2 lead late in the second period. Jackson went to play a puck behind the net, but it deflected off the top of the boards and back to the front of the net, where Boston’s Aatu Moisanen put it into the half-open goal 18:33 into the stanza.

“It was a great game. I have nothing but respect for their coaching staff and for their team,” Hodge said. “They worked hard and we worked hard, too. It was a great back-and-forth game.”

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