By WJBC Staff
BLOOMINGTON – The first career United States Hockey League hat trick from Patrick Curry propelled the Bloomington Thunder to a 4-2 come from behind win.
Curry’s three straight goals accounted for the Thunder’s tying mark, game winner, and empty netter over the Youngstown Phantoms on Thursday night from the U.S. Cellular Coliseum. Bloomington (30-17-3-1) now has a seven-point lead over Youngstown (24-17-4-5) and is momentarily tied with Green Bay for third in the Eastern Conference with 64 points this season.
The Thunder surpassed their 2014-15 win total tonight as Curry’s natural hat-trick helped the team to four unanswered goals in the second and third periods.
Curry’s first goal of the game came with under 30 seconds left in the second period. The Thunder ended a set of four on four play and then capped it off with their first power play goal of the night. Crossing over the blue line and paying for his centering pass with a check was Jake Durflinger fresh out of the penalty box, but it was well worth it. He found Curry for a shot from the slot and his 11th goal of the year.
Staring the scoring for the Thunder was their Captain Jake Slaker who added his 15th of the season at the midway point of the game. After a big Thunder penalty kill, Slaker stole the puck and moved over the blue line on the left wing. A shot caught goaltender Ryan Bednard off guard and beat him on the short side. The captain’s unassisted tally helped cap off the penalty kill with an exclamation point as the Thunder were 4-for-4 when down a man.
Curry continued to succeed in the third. On the power play again, the Schaumburg, IL native capitalized with a redirected puck. The shot from the left point by Wyatt Kalynuk bounced off the stick of Curry and just inside the post. The small opening cost Bednard the lead in the game, suffering the loss despite 44 saves for Youngstown.
Bloomington ended the game 2-of-6 on the power play and are 9-18 in their last three games against the Phantoms.
Unselfishly at the final minute of the game, Slaker dished the puck to Curry for the easy tap in on the empty net and his first career natural hat trick to seal the win. The Thunder fired 48 shots on net in the game and helped goaltender Hayden Lavigne lock up his sixth straight win in net. The Michigan prospect made 19 saves and earned his 23rd win of the year.
Despite chances in the first period for Bloomington, the Phantoms would capitalize on goals to take a first period lead. Lukas Craggs scored his 11th of the season on a puck that popped into the front of the net taking a strange hop off the Thunder and going into the slot. Craggs stepped into the shot for the opening goal of the game.
After the Phantoms had some control in the offensive zone, the puck worked to the line for NHL Drafted defenseman Ryan Shea. The blue liner fired it to the net for his second of the season to take a 2-0 lead before the halfway point of the period. The stat would last to the intermission despite the Thunder offense putting 17 shots on net in the first.
Bloomington’s six game win streak will be put to the test again on Friday against the Phantoms as they clash for the eighth and final time this season. The game will decide the winner of the head to head matchup and plays a big role down the stretch toward the Clark Cup Playoffs.