THUNDER started the new year with an important home win over Solent and Gosport Devils in the English National League Division One South.
With the two sides occupying the bottom two places in the league, the game had been talked about as being a potential relegation decider – with Thunder going into Sunday’s clash a day after losing 3-0 away to Wightlink Raiders.
Thunder were three points clear of Devils going into the game, but thanks to three goals in the final period, the city side clinched a 6-3 win and now have a five-point cushion at the foot of the table, but Solent do still have one game in hand.
Devils looked like the fresher side in the opening exchanges as Thunder’s players, who only got back from their cup game against Raiders on the Isle of Wight in the early hours, took time to get going.
Indeed it was Devils who took the lead with a powerplay goal after eight minutes, and they held that advantage until Max Petruks scored the equaliser for the home side two minutes before the end of the opening period.
Petruks then gave Thunder the lead early in the second period as Thunder got themselves going and began to cycle the puck well in the opposition end, and create numerous chances.
But Devils are a hard working side and soaked up the pressure, hitting Thunder on the break when they got the opportunity. The visitors levelled the score midway through the period, but Greg Randall restored Thunder’s lead to put the hosts 3-2 ahead come the end of the middle session.
Devils equalised within a minute of the restart, but from then on it was all Thunder as their increasing pressure on the Devils goal eventually told with Connor Goode making it 4-3.
And then, with his first senior goal, 16-year-old defenceman Cam McGiffin added their fifth goal on a powerplay.
Goode rounded off the scoring with his second of the night a minute from the final buzzer, giving Thunder a well deserved 6-3 win a bit more breathing space at the bottom of the table.