Saline battled back from a 4-2 deficit but couldn't capitalize on a late 5-on-3 and then gave up a goal in the last minute of the third period as Plymouth spoiled opening night at the Ice Cube.
Connor Wright scored two goals and had an assist for Saline, who also got goals from Joe Raupp and Keegan Bunting.
Plymouth's Brendan Allen scored three goals, including the game-winner with 57.9 seconds left in a penalty-filled game. The Hornets were called for seven penalties. The Wildcats were assessed seven minor penalties and one 10-minute misconduct.
Early in the game, it was all Wildcats. The Hornets had the first powerplay but couldn't break through neutral ice. Plymouth scored on its first powerplay, 30 seconds after Saline goalie Griffin Granica made a spectacular split save. A Hornet got tripped up in the neutral zone, allowing Michael Izzi to skate in on a breakaway. He put it past Granica for a 1-0 lead.
Saline was assessed two penalties, giving the Wildcats a 5-on-3. This time, the Hornets held the Wildcats off the board. Not much was going Saline's way when co-captain Connor Wright took matters into his own hands. Wright charged up the middle, split the defense, and then beat the Plymouth goalie with a wicked wrister to tie the game.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, they took another penalty and Brayden Goebel scored for the Wildcats. Plymouth led 2-1 after the first period.
Joe Raupp tied the game at 2 on the powerplay in the second period. Raupp attempted a wraparound and then chopped the rebound past the goalie. It was Raupp's first varsity goal.
It looked like Saline might take the lead with great pressure on their next shift. But instead it was Plymouth who scored next. Allen scored his first goal at even strength and then added another on the powerplay. Plymouth led 4-2 after two periods.
Early in the third, Saline climbed back into the game. The line of Wright, Ben Wild and Bunting was buzzing around the offensive zone. Wild fed a pass to Bunting, who was between the circles, and Bunting wired a hard wristshot over the goalie's glove.
Only 32 seconds later, Wright tied the game at four.
Both teams killed 5-on-3s down the stretch. Late in the contest, the Hornets turned the puck over at their blueline. Allen skated in alone on Granica and scored.