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The Rushmore Thunder boys’ varsity hockey team kicked off the South Dakota State Varsity Tournament with a tough win as they dropped the Watertown Lakers 4-2 from the Oahe Expo Center in Fort Pierre on Friday.

The Thunder scored the first goal of the matchup in the 11th minute of the first period as Ryan Nolan took an assist from Blake Devries and found the back of the net.

The Lakers responded less than two minutes later on a Alex Nygaard goal, assisted by Coby Steiner.

In the ninth minute of the second period, Rushmore took the lead again on an unassisted goal from Nolan.

Less than six minutes later, Watertown tied the game at 2-all as Kaiden Rawlins scored on an assist from Brandon Matson.

Not to be outdone, less than a minute later, Nolan scored his third goal of the game on assists from Seth Stock and Duncan Chisolm.

Although there wasn’t much scoring in the third period, Mason Martin added an insurance goal for the Thunder in the second minute to put the game out of reach.

Nolan led the way for Rushmore with a hat trick on just three shot attempts, while Thunder goaltender, John Young, had 18 saves on 20 shot attempts.

The Thunder will look to advance further in the tournament today when they take on the Brookings Rangers at 2:45 p.m.

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