OKLAHOMA CITY – Mikko Liukkonen’s four-goal night helped the Oklahoma Warriors jump into first place in the South Division with their 9-1 win over the Corpus Christi IceRays Friday at Blazers Ice Centre.
The first 20 minutes of play showed no hint of a blowout game after the Warriors and IceRays headed to intermission tied on the scoreboard. Liukkonen opened the game’s scoring with his first North American Hockey League goal 6:37 into the game. Brendan Williams sent a no-look pass from beneath the goal line to Owen Carlile in the left circle and Carlile fired on net for a rebound that proved to be the 1-0 goal. Corpus Christi answered back with a powerplay goal under two minutes later for what turned out to be its only goal of the game.
Oklahoma’s offense exploded for six goals in the second period and Liukkonen wasted little time completing his hat trick. Owen Baumgartner settled an IceRays dump in and gave the puck to William Lawson-Body to begin the sequence in the Warriors zone. Lawson-Body passed up to Liukkonen, who negated a stick check to keep the puck before skating in and scoring five-hole on a breakaway under two minutes into the period. Liukkonen made it a 3-1 game about four minutes later when he intercepted an errant pass near the top of the crease and roofed the puck from in tight. Liukkonen required just 20 minutes and seven seconds between his first and third goals of the night. Rylan Brady scored his team-leading 16th goal, from Lawson-Body and Williams, at 9:01 of the period to make it a 4-1 game. Past the halfway point in the period, Oklahoma’s powerplay connected to give the home squad a four goal lead. Drew Sutton and William Ahlrik found Joey Delgreco in the slot for the 5-1 goal. The Warriors added goals from Hunter Jones and Ahlrik, both assisted by Malte Hasselgren, before the period ended to take a 7-1 lead into the third period.
Ahlrik tipped in a Therien Thiesing shot that was set up by Jones to increase Oklahoma’s total to eight goals 1:52 into the third period. Less than a minute later, the Warriors added one more- Liukkonen’s fourth- to set a franchise record with nine goals scored in a game. Hasselgren chipped the puck up the far-side wall from his own zone to Liukkonen, and the Finnish winger skated into the zone and sailed in his fourth of the game from the high slot.
With the Warriors win and a Lone Star Brahmas defeat at the claws of the Shreveport Mudbugs, Oklahoma jumped into the first place spot in the South Division with 55 points, one ahead of Lone Star.
The Warriors and IceRays will meet Saturday, January 28, for a 7:15 p.m. puck drop at Blazers Ice Centre.