Junior hockey: Thunder top Cyclones, force deciding Game 3
Mar. 18—Three goals were again enough to win in the USPHL NCDC North Division playoff series between the Twin City Thunder and the Northern Cyclones.
In Game 2 on Saturday, it was the fourth-seeded Thunder hitting that mark in a 3-1 victory at Cyclones Arena in Hudson, New Hampshire. The best-of-three series is now knotted up at 1-1 — the Cyclones won Game 1, 3-2 in overtime, on Friday. The winner-take-all Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Cyclones' home arena.
It will be the third win-or-go-home game of the week for the Thunder, including Saturday's game and Wednesday's play-in win over the Boston Advantage.
"I told them before the game, we just did this on Wednesday — we had a do-or-die against the Advantage," Thunder coach Dan Hodge said.
The winner of Sunday's game will take on the winner of the South Shore Kings-New Hampshire Junior Monarchs series in another three-game series. If the Thunder advance, they will travel to play either team, while the Cyclones will host either the Kings or Jr. Monarchs.
Ricky Davis gave the Thunder an early lead in Saturday's game, lighting the lamp off assists from Trace Norwell and Ben Portner 2:04 into the game.
The top-seeded Cyclones tied the game at the nine-minute mark of the first period. Austin Rice scored, with Craig Jezima providing the assist.
Twin City took control in the second period. Portner gave the Thunder the lead back just over six minutes into the frame, with Norwell and Davis setting the goal up.
Portner has found a home playing on the top line with two players in their last year of junior hockey eligibility. Being a center, he has added the responsibility of helping the defense in the defensive zone.
"We moved him up there to Ricky and Trace and he accepted that role," Hodge said. "Just watching him three, four weeks ago, just watching him take off with two older guys and having to carry the weight of being a center, he has to carry his weight. He's doing a great job."
Liam Hodgson made it 3-1 with one second left in the second frame. Blake Tierney and Norwell notched the assists.
Hodgson made up for early-game errors.
"He had a little bit of a tough start and had some turnovers. A great play by (Norwell) sending him on the breakaway," Hodge said. "It was amazing, I was watching the clock and it was like, three, two, one and he made a deke to put it in the open net. It was nice to see him finish it. He's a big kid who plays hard."
Trey Miller was money in net for the Thunder, turning away 37 of 38 shots. Pavel Grishin made 34 saves for the Cyclones.
Neither team could convert on the power play, with Twin City going 0 for 4 and the Cyclones failing to score on either of their two opportunities.