Gabriel Richard Outlasts Saline in Battle of Washtenaw County's Best Hockey Teams

 12/17/2016 - 02:23
The Hornets celebrate Brendan Murphy's goal, which tied the game at 6.

Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard scored four third-period goals to skate away with an 8-6 victory over Saline Friday at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.

It was the first loss of the season for the Hornets.

Gordie Niethammer scored two goals and assisted on another. Logan Dejanovich scored a goal and assisted on one. Dallas Klaassen, Mikhail Lozovyy and Brendan Murphy also scored for Saline. Alex Birkle had a pair of assists.

Goalie Justin Flanagan turned aside 31 of 38 shots.

Matt Granzotto scored two goals and had two assists for Gabriel Richard.

Saline coach Paul Fassbender said it was a great test and a great a game.

“These are the two top teams in Washtenaw County. We had a great crowd tonight and it was a great atmosphere,” Fassbender said. “We made a few mistakes and a few bad decisions. But I’m happy with the way we competed and I liked the way we battled back from behind. We had a few chances there at the end on the doorstep. We just couldn’t tie it up.”

Gabrield Richard scored first with Matt Granzotto putting one behind Flanagan, who seemed to come off the post anticipating the cross-crease pass. Saline answered on the powerplay. Brendan Murphy delivered a huge hit to keep possession. Behind the net, Birked fed Dejanovich at the side of the net. Dejanovich passed to Niethammer to banged it past the keeper with 6:55 left in the period.

A little more than two minutes later, Saline caught a break. The refs caught Niethammer for slashing. Gabriel Richard pulled the goal keeper for an extra attacker. They accidently played the puck backwards into their own net. Niethammer got credit for the goal and then had to go sit in the penalty box. Unfortunately for the Hornets, Gus Sheridan redirected a point shot into the goal on the powerplay. The game was tied at two.

The Hornets took the lead before the period was over, though.  Collin Clark won an offensive zone faceoff back to Ben Stimac at the point. He centered to the high slot where Lozovyy one-timed a shot into the goal. Saline led 3-2.

Things didn’t go well for Saline early in the second, in part because the Hornets spent too much time in the penalty box (For the game, Saline was assessed 7 minor penalties to Gabriel Richard’s 4). With Dejanovich in the box for slashing, Quentin Marks tied the game. Up until this point in the period, the Hornets were being outshot 11-1.

“We had a real soft spot there in the second period. They’ve got a group of five or six forwards who are very smart and see the ice well. As far as I can tell, they only used two lines all night. We got caught watching them a little bit,” Fassbender said.

Saline started pouring on the pressure. But a quick faceoff drop in the offensive zone proved costly. Dejanovich won it back to this defenseman, who was turned and facing his bench. Two Gabriel Richard forwards sped past him and executed the two-on-one. Alex Opitek finished it off with a goal for a 4-3 lead.

Saline replied. A great forecheck caused a turnover to Logan Dejanovich who skated in and ripped a wrist shot past the goalie to tie the score. With 1:07 left in the period, Klaassan gave Saline a 5-4 lead. He made a good stick check to hold the line and them with some help from Clark, he won possession of the puck.

He fired a bullet of a wrist shot into the net to give Saline the lead.

Unfortunately for the Hornets, things did not go well in the third. Gabriel Richard won a puck battled in the corner and the puck came out to to Charlie Doenitz, who rifled a shot into the top corner to tie the game. A few minutes later a turnover at the Gabriel Richard blueline allowed Aidan Brewer to skate in alone and beat Flanagan for a 6-5 lead.

Saline scored just a few seconds later. Birkle, Niethammer and Dejanovich put on a good forecheck in the Gabriel Richard zone.

Niethammer passed the puck back to the point for Murphy, who walked into a wrist shot that was deflected past the goalie who, screened by Birkle, never saw the change in directions. The game was tied at 6.

But a few minutes later, with Eric Wesche in the box for tripping Scott Granzotto scored on the powerplay.

The Hornets generated several good chances to tie the game but couldn’t find the back of the net. Matt Granzotto scored an empty-netter with 39 seconds left.

“We knew weren’t going to go undefeated. I told the team that if we keep playing hard and if we learn from the mistakes we made, we’re going to win a lot of hockey games,” Fassbender said.

Saline is off until the new year.

The Saline Post 3 Stars

1) Logan Dejanovich - Won faceoffs. Scored a big goal. Set up another goal and several chances.

2) Brendan Murphy - Delivers big hits and big goals.

3) Gordie Niethammer -- Scored two goals (cough, one) and had an assist too. Collin Clark also had a good game at center.

 

Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is owner of The Saline Post. Email him at tran@thesalinepost.com or call him at 734-272-6294

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