Saline exploded for three goals in less than two minutes to defeat Pioneer, 5-3, Saturday at the Ice Cube.
For much of the game, it appeared the Nick Miller’s first period goal might stand as the contest’s only goal. But Pioneer scored two third period goals on five-minute powerplay in the third period.
Just 1:17 after Pioneer gained the 2-1 lead, Collin Clark scored to tie the game. 1:21 later, Mikhail Lozovyy scored to give Saline the lead. Only 30 seconds later, Clark scored Saline’s fourth goal, which proved to be the winner.
The Hornets improved to 16-1 and remained unbeaten in SEC action.
Miller opened the scoring about 10 minutes into the game. The defense skated up the left wing and from a tough angle stuffed a shot past Pioneer goalie Patrick Neuton.
Saline dominated possession in the first period and held a 13-7 advantage in shots on goal.
The second period was more evenly played, with Pioneer controlling the first half of the period and Saline controlling the second half of the period.
The contest between the SEC rivals was physical at times. And that physicality changed the game in the third. On the first shift of the game, a Pioneer skater took a run at Jack Eberts. The play went unnoticed by officials, who didn’t miss it it when Logan Dejanovich retaliated and kneed the Pioneer captain. Dejanovich was assessed a five-minute major.
Saline goalie Cam Crawford made several good stops early in the powerplay, but Wyatt Bullinger put Pioneer on the board with a shot from the right wing at 3:48 of the third periiod. Less than a minute later Gaiden Heatley scored with a wrist shot past Crawford’s glove into the top corner. Pioneer had a 2-1 lead and a 1:10 left on the penalty to Dejanovich. Before the penalty expired, Pioneer’s Joe Faster was penalized for slashing. With the teams skating four aside Crawford tied the game with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle. Lozovyy and Brendan Murphy drew the assists. The goal came three seconds before Dejanovich’s penality expired - which meant the Hornets would enjoy a powerplay when he came out of the box. Saline cashed in. Yanic Sadek fired a shot on the goal. The rebound bounced out between the circles where Lozovyy fired it behind the Pioneer goalie. Saline led 3-2.
Only 20 seconds later, Saline scored again. Connor Wright nearly beat the goalie on a wraparound from behind the net. Clark got to the rebound before the goalie could freeze and fired it over the goalie’s pad and into the net.
At the other end of the ice, the Hornets continued to give up fairly decent scoring chances. Crawford was up to the task, however.
Saline added to its lead with 2:18 to play. Captain Alex Birkle found a rebound and slid it past the goalie to make it 5-2. Murphy and Mason Ausmus drew the assists.
Bullinger scored a late powerplay goal for Pioneer.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
Collin Clark - The speedy center scored the biggest goal of the game to jumpstart the Hornet rally. His second goal of the game proved to be the game-winner.
Nick Miller - Showed good speed on the rush for Saline’s first goal and was active from the blueline all game. Also did good work on the PK.
Cam Crawford - Crawford stopped 30 of 33 shots. In the third period, Pioneer outshot Saline 19-6, yet Saline outscored Pioneer 4-3.