HOCKEY: Saline Opens Playoffs with 8-2 Victory Over Skyline

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The Hornets celebrate Gavin Bird's goal - Saline's fourth of the game.

TRENTON -- The Saline Hornets opened the playoffs with an 8-2 win over Skyline in the regional quarterfinal at Kennedy Arena in Trenton Wednesday evening.

Blueliner Aidan Granica scored a pair of goals to lead the Saline attack. 

Collin Clark, Jake Honan, Gavin Bird, Julian Downey, Tristan Trier and Mateo Iadipaolo also scored for Saline. Cullen Ellis had a couple of assists.

Saline outshot Skyline 36-14. Tyler Schroeder stopped 12 of 14 shots in the victory.

Coach Kyle Zagata said the Hornets knew Skyline would try to give them a different look after Saline won the two regular season contests.

"We knew they'd make adjustments and in the first period they did a good job playing good, solid defensive hockey. We had to adjust and do some different things. We moved more and ran different routes and it paid off," Zagata said. "We ran four lines. Everybody got ice. Everybody contributed. Everybody got in on the action. It was a good team effort."

Saline advances to the region semifinal Saturday against Pioneer.

Collin Clark opened the scoring midway through the first period with Cullen Ellis and Iadipaolo drawing assists. Late in the period, Saline went up 2-0 on a goal by Aidan Granica. Iadipaolo set up this goal, too.

Alex Nakashima scored a powerplay goal for Skyline in the second period to make it 2-1. 

Saline responded with two quick goals - just 17 seconds apart

Jake Honan answered moments later, skating down the right wing and ripping a wrist shot past the Skyline goalie for a 3-1 lead. Seconds later the Hornets forced a turnover and Gavin Bird's rocket from the right wing went bar-down for a 4-1 lead.

Nakashima scooped up a Saline turnover and scored on a breakaway to make it 4-2.

But the Hornets answered on the powerplay, with Julian Downey scoring on a wrist shot.

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After an early powerplay for Skyline in the third period, the Hornets wore down the Eagles dominated - especially during the last 7-8 minutes of the contest.

With 6:20 to play, Granica took the pass from Andrew Updike and fired a slapshot from the point past the Skyline goalie. Two minutes later Tristan Trier scored a goal set up by Cullen Ellis.

The Hornets continued to swarm all over the offensive zone. With 2:30 to play, Saline forced a turnover and Maxim Sorel set up a short 2-on-1 for Blake Woodrel and Iadipaolo. Woodrel slid the pass over to Iadipaolo who deposited the puck into the net past the helpless goalie and Saline scored its eighth goal of the night.

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Saline now prepares for a Pioneer team that tied and beat Saline.

"It's a fun rivalry game - but we've got to treat it like any other hockey game," Zagata said. "I'm confident in our group. I know what we're capable of."

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