Call it a coming out party for 16-year-old Russian import Ruslan Abyanov.
Abyanov scored four goals had two assists to lead the West Sound Warriors to a 6-2 win over the Bellingham Blazers Saturday night at the Bremerton Ice Center in a Western States Hockey League game. The second-place Warriors avenged their 5-3 loss to Bellingham on Friday.
Warriors coach Ty Smith said Abyanov had a really good practice skate on Thursday and rewarded him by putting the youngster on the team’s top line.
“We gave him a little bone and put him on the first line and he came through,” Smith said.
Bellingham took a 1-0 lead in the first period but Connor Wherrett scored to tie it at 1-1 with 1:15 left in the period for West Sound. Alec Johnson and Abyanov had the assists.
And then Abyanov took over.
Abyanov, who entered the game with eight goals on the season, scored his first goal at the 13:56 mark off assists from Harri Koll and Bryce Ebert. Then, 25 seconds later, Abyanov sent the home crowd into an uproar on his third goal.
Koll collected a pass from Dimitri Munirov, then dropped the puck to Abyanov who was waiting behind him near the top of the right circle. Abyanov let go of his shot against Blazers goalie Kolter Pawlick, giving West Sound a 4-1 lead with 1:04 left.
Abyanov, who is still learning English, was excited to contribute to the Warriors’ win.
“The boys give me the puck,” he said after the game.
Abyanov kept up his scoring in the third period, putting the game out of reach despite a late score by Bellingham.
Abyanov, Koll, and Munirov teamed up again to make it 5-1. The Blazers’ Ruslan Novruzov scored to cut the lead, 5-2, but Caleb Travis made it a 4-goal lead for the Warriors with 1:34 remaining in the game and a final 6-2 score.
The Warriors (18-13-1, 37 points) were playing at home for the first time since the holiday break, which also included a very successful trip to Las Vegas for the WSHL Showcase last month. West Sound went 3-0 in Vegas, surprising many who viewed them as underdogs.
It’s a sure bet the rest of the Northwest Division has taken notice of the Warriors recent surge.
West Sound is ranked No. 1 in the WSHL power rankings and is 8-2 in its last 10 games.