The CD Dodd Perth Thunder have clinched a finals berth and are within touching distance of third place in the AIHL standings after a Keven Veilleux hat trick led them to an emphatic 8-1 victory over the Melbourne Ice on Saturday night.
Veilleux registered his first AIHL hat trick with a goal in the final 30 seconds of the game, with Ben Breault recording his best night of the season (four points) as all bar one Thunder skater tallied a point in a dominant performance.
The Thunder rung up 57 shots on net, while Nico Viksten was called upon to make 24 saves on 25 shots in another solid performance in net.
Louick Marcotte got the party started for the visitors, scoring the only goal of the first period, before Ben Breault doubled the lead early in the second period.
The Thunder’s special teams then got rolling, as David Kudla recorded his first goal of the season with a short-handed special, before Keven Veilleux capitalised on the powerplay to balloon the Thunder lead to 4-0 late in the second period.
The Ice hit back with a John Piotrowski goal in the final minute of the period, but with just one second remaining in the frame, Rob Haselhurst restored the four-goal lead on assists from Breault and Shaun Tobin.
Veilleux again made the most of the man advantage with his second powerplay goal, before Tomek Sak was in the right place for Marcotte to locate his stick to give the Thunder a 7-1 lead.
Veilleux then completed his hat trick with 21 seconds remaining as the Thunder clinched a Finals berth for the fifth straight season.
The Thunder face the Ice again on Sunday for their final regular-season game, with a win of any kind ensuring them a third-place finish and a date with the Newcastle Northstars in the AIHL Second Semi-Final.