LIVONIA – Overtime wasn’t enough to settle Wednesday’s contest between Saline and Livonia Churchill.
The Saline varsity hockey team battled back from behind twice in the 2-2 tie. The Hornets' record is now 2-1-1.
Griffin Clark and Brendan Murphy scored for the Hornets.
It was a strange game. The Hornets dominated the first period but couldn’t put the puck past Churchill goalie Bryant Riley. Churchill didn’t have many chances in the first – but they scored the period’s only goal. Just a few seconds into a powerplay, the Chargers set up a screen in front of Hornet goalie Cam Crawford and beat him with a shot he never saw.
The Hornet attack wasn’t as dangerous in the second period. Murphy did beat Riley once – but his wrist shot from the point clanged off the post and bounced out the other side.
In the third period the Hornets poured on the pressure. Coach Paul Fassbender decided to move his all-state defenseman up to forward to turn up the heat. During one mad scramble around the Churchill net, Murphy corralled a rebound and stuffed it past the outstretched goalie but the goal was waved off because Riley had jarred the net out of position. The Hornets continued to press, with the line of Ben Wild, Logan Dejanovich and Gordie Niethammer nearly scoring.
At last, with 6:48 to play, the Hornets tied the game at one. Griffin Clark and Mikhail Lozovyy broke in on what appeared to be a harmless two-on-two. Clark, on the left-wing, centered to Lozovvy. Clark’s pass got tangled up in skates and popped loose right back to Clark – who was suddenly all alone and breaking in on the goalie.
“I just deked and put it close side,” said Clark, whose first goal as a Hornet was a big one. “It felt pretty good because it was my first goal of the season and it was a big pick up for the team.”
Clark jumped into the glass to celebrate the goal in front of the Charger student section.
For most of the next five minutes, it was almost all Saline. The Hornets generated chance after chance. But Churchill blocked shots and Riley made several big stops.
Despite the pressure, it was Churchill that was awarded with a late powerplay. And after winning the draw deep in Saline’s zone, they worked the puck around and scored with a well-placed slapshot from the circle with 1:31 to play. Churchill led, 2-1.
To make matters worse, the Hornets were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.
But Saline answered. The Hornets got the puck down the ice, sent the goalie to the bench for an extra attacker and forced a turnover in the offensive zone.
“I opened up at the blueline and Logan fed me a good pass and there we guys crashing the net from the other side. I had an open lane. The goalie was sliding right and I went bottom left and found a nice hole,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s shorthanded goal tied the score at two with 44 seconds to play.
Blake Stephenson (who replaced the penalized Crawford in net) returned to his cage. Still, despite being shorthanded, the Hornets continued to buzz around the Chargers’ net.
The game went to overtime and Saline continued to force the play. The Hornets were awarded a powerplay and generated several great opportunities but couldn’t beat Riley again.
Saline settled for the 2-2 tie. Saline visits East Grand Rapids Saturday.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
- Brendan Murphy – The all-state defenseman scored the game-tying goal, hit a goal post, and had a goal waved off. All on a night when the Chargers were doing their best to shadow Murphy and take away his shot.
- Griffin Clark – The freshman scored his first varsity goal and it was a big one, tying the game at one. Clark, despite a small frame, also played a physical game for the Hornets, finishing his checks and battling for loose pucks.
- Mason Ausmus – Ausmus was dangerous all game, swooping in from defense and skating plays into the O-zone.