Saline’s top line racked up four goals and nine assists as the Hornets defeated Huron 10-2 in a game that was called early due to the mercy rule Tuesday at the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor. Saline improved to 5-0.
The Hornets top line of Logan Dejanovich, Alex Birkle and Gordie Niethammer dominated nearly every time they stepped on the ice.
Dejanovich scored a goal and had five assists, Birkle scored twice and three assists and Niethammer scored once and had an assist. Saline’s top line often looked like they were on the powerplay even when Huron was at full-strength.
Saline coach Paul Fassbender said that while the Huron team isn’t as strong as it has been in past years, his top line was stellar.
“They know how to play together. They were very patient and unselfish with the puck. If there’s one thing I want to see come out of this game is that we continue to be patient while passing the puck around the offensive zone,” Fassbender said.
Also scoring were Ben Wild, Kyler Blake-Jones, Brendan Murphy, Mason Ausmus, Aidan Arbaugh and Connor Wright.
Saline opened the scoring just 1:44 into the game. The top line was buzzing around the offensive zone. Huron tried to clear the puck but it bounced off someone and landed on the blade of Birkle, who had room in the slot. Saline’s captain fired it past Ethan St. Pierre for the game’s first goal.
St. Pierre, under immense pressure all night, kept the River Rats close for the first period. But you could sense it was just a matter of time. At 12:37, while on the powerplay, Dejanovich took a centering pass from Birkle and shot the puck from the slot. St. Pierre stopped the first shot, but Dejanovich continued to the net and flipped the rebound into the goal for a 2-0 lead.
Saline started the second period with nearly four straight minutes of pressure in the Huron zone. But it wasn’t until the Hornets took a penalty that they scored again. After two short-handed two-on-ones failed to yield a goal, Ben Wild corralled a loose puck, skated in all alone on a breakaway and beat St. Pierre with a wrist shot to the stick side. The shorthanded goal was the first varsity goal for the freshman.
“We love to use Ben and Connor Wright on the PK because they play with such energy. It’s great to see Ben rewarded,” Fassbender said.
A couple minutes later Murphy made it 4-0. He took a pass from Birkle and skated in from the point up the center of the ice, going through two River Rats, before zipping a low wristshot into the goal. Only 30 seconds later the Hornets scored again. Aidan Arbaugh picked up a rebound in the slot during a scramble and fired it into the goal to make it 5-0.
Just 15 seconds later Huron’s Will Donner forced a turnover and scored on a breakaway to put Huron on the board.
The Hornets kept coming. Freshman Kyler Blake Jones ripped a slapshot from the right point past St. Pierre to make it 6-1.
Mason Ausmus made it 8-1 less than a minute later with a shot from the left point.
Saline continued its assault in the third period. Gordie Niethammer scored the first goal of the period. Donner replied for Huron.
One of the prettiest goals of the game came when Niethammer drove the net and then centered to a wide-open Birke who tapped it past the nearly helpless Huron goalie to make it 9-2.
Wright made it 10-2 when he chipped the rebound of a Murphy slapshot in from the side of the goal.
Saline is home to Walled Lake Western at 3:15 p.m., Saturday. The Hornets face Skyline at 5:15 p.m. Dec. 20.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
- Logan Dejanovich – The rangy center did his best Ryan Getzlaf impression with a goal and five assists. Dejanovich uses his size to shield the puck, giving his wingers that extra second to get open for the pass.
- Alex Birkle – The captain scored the opening goal and finished with two goals and three assists.
- Arbaugh, Ausmus, Wild and Blake-Jones – Four Hornets scored their first goal of the season Tuesday.