Nolan Volcan erupts for hat trick in rout of Rockets
KENT – Back in the friendly confines of the accesso ShoWare Center Friday night, the Thunderbirds red hot offense continued to light the lamp.
Nolan Volcan picked up his first career hat trick while Sami Moilanen and Jarret Tyszka each chipped in with three assists. The offense fired on all cylinders again as the Thunderbirds scored seven times for the second straight game, this time in a win against the B.C. Division leading Kelowna Rockets.
“I think the crowd helped a lot,” Volcan said. “How loud it was, helps fire us up more and we’re happy to get the win for them.”
A sell out crowd of 6,057 boosted the Thunderbirds to a 7-2 blasting of the Rockets for their third straight win, a streak that has seen them pot 19 goals.
Moilanen and Volcan helped get Seattle (23-16-4-2) going right from the start of the game. It started with a Moilanen pass to Zack Andrusiak 59 seconds into it. Andrusiak buried his 20th of the season and the Thunderbirds were on their way.
Seven minutes later, Volcan picked off a pass and snapped a shot for his first of the night and the crowd was into the game.
“I think when guys catch wind of a big crowd, they ramp it up a little bit,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said about the start. “Such a nice home ice advantage when we have that support. Guys get adrenaline going and getting a good start was one of our keys and the guys did that.”
While Volcan was scoring, goalie Dorrin Luding stopped 27 Kelowna shots to pick up his third straight win in net. He was thrown into action this week to replace the injured Liam Hughes and has responded.
“It’s been pretty busy but I’ve enjoyed the ride,” Luding said. “Just soaking everything in and playing hard for this group of guys.”
The Thunderbirds have survived several injuries to their goaltenders this year, yet keep finding guys who are up to the challenge. For Luding, its been an up and down year that saw him start in Everett before getting traded to Seattle.
“Luding’s good,” O’Dette said. “I think with these goalies, especially with Luds, he’s a well-liked guy in the room and when he gets his opportunities, guys want to play hard for him. I think (goalie coach Ian Gordon) does a good job with our goalies, keeping them ready.”
Seattle would make it 3-0 six minutes into the second period when Noah Philp scored after Moilanen poked the puck loose at center ice. The Rockets would show a little bit of life as Dillon Dube cut the lead to 3-1 when he fired a one-timer on a power play. That’s as close as Kelowna (28-14-2-1) would get however.
The Thunderbirds responded less than two minutes later when Volcan scored his second on a Seattle power play. From there the rout was on. A minute-and-a-half later Turner Ottenbreit picked up a puck and found himself alone on a rare breakaway. The big defenseman snapped a shot past Brodan Salmond for his sixth of the season.
When asked if the breakaway marker meant that Ottenbreit might have earned some chances in the next shootout, O’Dette was hesitant.
“He’s defiantly got the confidence for it,” the coach said. “But we might have to go pretty far down the list to get to him.”
Seattle would continue to pour it on in the third period as Blake Bargar scored to make it 6-1 before Kelowna scored a cosmetic goal off the stick of Connor Bruggen-Cate. The only drama left was whether Volcan would get a hat trick.
The chance came on a late Seattle power-play when Donovan Neuls fired a shot that Volcan was able to deflect in as hats reigned down from the crowd.
“I think Midget AAA so it’s been quite a while but it feels good to get that one,” Volcan said about the last time he scored three times. “Donnie was telling me to put my stick out on the side and he’ll hit it. I told him that should be the play every time now.”
The win moves the Thunderbirds to within six points of first place in the U.S. Division with a game in hand on the front-running Everett Silvertips. They’ll hope to ride the momentum of Friday’s big win into Saturday’s home showdown with one of the best teams in the Eastern Division, the Swift Current Broncos.
They’ll need to bring the same energy, right from the start.
“We played a full 60 tonight and that’s what we were lacking a few games back,” Volcan said. “Played a full game and got the good result.”
• Seattle’s forecheck was key on Friday, causing several turnovers that eventually led to goals. “That’s a big staple of our game, being hard on the forecheck,” O’Dette said. “We made some adjustments on it a couple weeks aback and its helped us. When we play aggressively and put heat on the defensemen it creates chances.”
• Volcan’s three goals give him 23 on the season and he now has 50 points, both of which are new career highs.
• Friday was the second time in his career that Tyszka has notched three assists in a game. He also did it on Dec. 8th against Tri-City. It was the first time in his career that Moilanen has picked up three assists.
• Seattle is now 2-1 in the season series with Kelowna.