Logan Dejanovich had his first hat trick as Saline defeated Chelsea 5-4 in varsity ice hockey at the Ice Cube Tuesday night.
Dejanovich scored two goals in the first period and then scored what proved to be the game-winner with 8:18 to play in the third period. Saline won its second straight game to improve to 8-2-1 overall.
“Chelsea’s a really big rival so beating them is big. We got creamed by them last year so coming out and getting this win was big for us,” Dejanovich said.
Collin Clark and Mikhail Lozovyy also scored for Saline. Alex Birkle, Tommy Raupp and Brendan Murphy each had two assists.
Dejanovich centers speedy Gordie Niethammer and Assistant Captain Alex Birkle on the team’s top line. The team often lines up against the opponents’ top line and is counted on to score, too. While the line hasn’t had much trouble finding the back of the net, Dejanovich had difficulty scoring goals earlier this season, even as he was setting up his linemates.
Coach Paul Fassbender has been waiting for Dejanovich to break out on the score sheet.
“He’s got great hands and he’s tough to push off the puck. He can get through traffic and make things happen. But for whatever reason, he was having trouble scoring goals earlier this season,” he said. “It’s good to see him rewarded.”
Dejanovich was pleased too.
“This was kind of a break through. I can’t wait for the next game,” he said.
Dejanovich opened the scoring in the first period. Dallas Klaassen passed to Birkle, who fired a shot on goal. The puck rebounded to Dejanovich, skating down the center of the slot. He slammed it past the helpless keeper.
Chelsea answered six minutes later with Brandon Steele scoring from the goal mouth.
A moment later, Dejanovich added his second goal. Murphy passed to Niethammer who wheeled up the right wing and around the net. He passed to Dejanovich in the high slot. Dejanovich stickhandled between two Bulldogs toward the goal. As a third Bulldog approach, he ripped a wrist shot past the goalie’s glove. Saline led 2-1.
Chelsea answered with 1:56 remaining in the first. Saline turned the puck over inside the Chelsea blueline. A Bulldog knocked down Klaassen as Thomas Steele directed the perfect break-away pass to Brennen Wright, who skated in and beat Justin Flanagan over the glove.
“Whether it was intentional or not, we thought they interfered with Dallas and that allowed their guy to skate in all alone. But one of the things we’ve got to do is make smarter decisions when we’re attacking,” Fassbender said.
The team’s only SEC loss this season was due to a similar breakdown at the Skyline blueline in overtime last week.
The Hornets got the only goal of the second period. Raupp passed to Clark whos creamed up the left wing and beamed a wrist shot past the goalie. The Hornets were fortunate to get out of the period with a 3-2 lead. Saline coughed up the puck twice in its own end and was also assessed a minor and major penalty in the period.
“Penalties have been a problem recently. We’ve taken two major penalties in the past three games,” Fassbender said. “Fortunately our PK has been fantastic.”
The Hornets had killed off 16 straight penalties coming into the game.
“We killed them off, but defense is a lot of work. And we just seemed a little off our game after those penalty kills,” Fassbender said.
Flanagan’s best goaltending of the night came in the final five minutes of the second period. He flashed his glove to rob a Bulldog forward who one-timed a shot in the slot with about 30 seconds left in the period.
The Hornets came out flying in the third. Clark and Raupp won a battle in the corner and Raupp centered the puck to the front of the goal where Lozovyy chipped the puck past the Chelsea goalie. Saline led 4-2.
It looked like Saline might skate away with the game. With 8:18 to play Dejanovich completed the hat trick. He took a pass from Eric Wesche and skated up the right wing. He used his speed and reach to get position on the defenseman and then cut toward the goal. From a tough angle he fired a backhander over the goalie’s glove and just inside the post. Saline led 5-2.
The Bulldogs didn’t go away without a fight. Cooper Mattsson scored with7:33 remaining. And then with 2:27 to play Brandon Steele put a scare into the Hornets when his centering pass glanced off a Hornet stick and into the net.
Flanagan stopped 31 of 35 shots. Saline fired 35 shots at Chelsea’s goalie.
Saline plays Livonia Churchill at Eddie Edgar Arena at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
1. Logan Dejanovich - Dejanovich scored 3 of Saline's five goals and probably could have had a couple more. He shows uncanny patience with the puck in high pressure offensive zone situations. Unfortunately, nobody tossed a hat on the ice, perhaps due to the netting that prevents pucks from flying into the crowd.
2. Collin Clark - Played with speed and hustle and scored on a bullet of shot.
3. Justin Flanagan - He'd probably like to have one of those goals back, but Flanagan made the saves when he had to and he helped keep the Hornets in the drivers' seat when the team sleepwalked through the final five or six minutes of the second period.