Junior hockey: Islanders HC survives Twin City Thunder power play
Jan. 26—The Twin City Thunder struck often on the man-advantage, but Islanders Hockey Club did more damage at even strength in a 5-3 victory Thursday in a USPHL NCDC game at Skate 3 Arena in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts.
Islanders HC scored four even-strength goals, while the Thunder went 3 for 5 on the power play.
"We just didn't execute, obviously. We had some power-play goals, but we didn't score any even-strength goals," Thunder coach Dan Hodge said. "We had three power-play goals, which is good, but we had trouble with our defensive zone getting pucks out. That's never a good recipe for success."
Twin City (15-15-3, 33 points) is two points out of a playoff spot in the North Division. The South Shore Kings (16-15-3, 35 points) sit in fourth place.
Hodge added that the Thunder aren't focused on other teams right now, and there are ups and downs during the season.
"We have to take care of our business; we can't be worried about other teams right now," Hodge said. "I know that sounds cliché, but we have to worry about you and control what we can control at this point of the year. I told the team yesterday that we were the team that started 7-3 and we are a team that has lost seven in a row. We have to find a way to work through it."
Islanders Hockey Club (15-18-3, 33 points) is now tied for fifth in the North Division with the Thunder.
The power play got the Thunder going in the first period. Bowdoin College commit Richard Davis found Trace Norwell early in the stanza, giving Twin City a 1-0 lead.
Islanders HC responded quickly when Jesper Seeberg tied the game 3 minutes, 16 seconds into the first period. The goal came 28 seconds after Norwell's goal.
Norwell scored again on the power play, beating goalie Connor Strobel (35 saves) midway through the first as the Thunder took a 2-1 lead.
Norwell now has 19 goals this season, which leads the Thunder.
"He was a factor all over the ice; he scored the first two goals," Hodge said. "He's going to the net. We tell him to go to the net and good things happen."
Tikhon Ashikhmin responded for Islanders Hockey Club two minutes into the second period, tying the game 2-2.
Defenseman Kadsen Johnson continued the Thunder's strong game on the man-advantage when he gave Twin City a 3-2 lead midway through the second period. Lewiston's Nick Pomerleau notched the assist.
The power play has been hot in January, as the Thunder have recorded at least one man-advantage goal in four of the six games so far this month.
"We haven't had an even-strength goal in a few games," Hodge said. "It's good to see the power play clicking and it's a good time for it to be hitting on all cylinders."
Elias Hornquist netted the equalizer for Islanders HC on the man-advantage late in the middle period.
Islanders HC went 1 for 2 on the power play.
Brayton Frick beat Thunder goalie Christopher Jackson (31 saves), giving Islanders HC a 4-3 lead nearly five minutes into the third period, with Leo Piandes and Jesper Seeberg setting the tally up.
Ashikhmin tallied his second goal of the game, extending Islanders HC's lead to 5-3 in the middle of the third period.
The Thunder return to Norway Savings Bank Arena on Friday when the North Division-leading New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (20-12-4, 44 points) visit for a 12:30 p.m. faceoff.
— The Thunder have brought in 19-year-old defenseman Tyler Fisher from the Long Beach Sharks of the North American 3 Hockey League, where he had three goals and seven assists in 32 contests this season.
— Looking ahead to the 2023-24 season, Will Matthews has signed a tender contract with the club. The 18-year-old defender is currently with the Roxbury Latin School in Massachusetts.
— The Twin City Thunder's USPHL Premier League team has clinched a playoff spot in the New England Division. They are 14-18-4 (32 points) and are seventh in the nine-team division.