Saline’s varsity hockey team opened 2019 by defeating Jackson United in front of the home crowd at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube Tuesday.
The teams were scoreless after the first period before Saline erupted with three goals from defensemen Mason Ausmus, Brendan Murphy and Lucas Evans in the second period. Mikhail Lozovvy scored in the third period to make it 4-0 Saline. Jackson United scored two breakaway goals close the gap, but the Hornets killed two late penalties to win.
Saline improved to 9-1-1. Coach Paul Fassbender said the team wasn’t at its best.
“It’s a tough game to come in to. We’re expected to win. We’re coming off a break. We have a little sickness going through the team and have four guys out tonight. So it was tough mentally for these guys tonight. We didn’t have many skates over the break, so there wasn’t a lot to lean on,” Fassbender said.
Fassbender said the Hornets are happy to get the win and get back to practice ahead of Saturday’s game against Chelsea.
Saline dominated the first period and outshot Jackson, 10-3, but couldn’t put the puck in the net. The Hornets gave away too many possessions on ill-advised centering passes and the Jackson United goalie did a good job standing up to Saline’s heavy shooters. In fact, Jackson appeared to find the back of the net when a long shot leaked through Cam Crawford, but the Hornets were saved by a quick whistle.
Saline took over in the second period. Soon after killing a penalty, Mason Ausmus scored on a beautiful rush. He took possession in his own end, started up the middle, weaved through traffic and bounced to the left wing to go one-on-one with the goalie. Ausmus slid the puck past the goalie for a 1-0 lead. Lucas Evans drew the assist.
About 8 minutes later, Saline added to the lead. Brendan Murphy, after taking a pass from Will Wynn, gained the zone on a powerplay. He curled and waited just beyond the circle. When he couldn’t find an inviting target for a pass, he whipped a hard, low wrist shot that squeaked through the goalie’s pads. Saline led 2-0.
Saline made it 3-0 just before the end of the second period. Connor Wright passed to Brendan Murphy, who went point-to-point to Evans. Evans fired a shot that deflected off a Jackson played and went into the top corner.
Early in the third period, Mikhail Lozovvy gave the Hornets a 4-0 lead. Murphy sent a lead pass into the offensive zone, up the right wing. Wright hustled and beat his man to the puck and then dropped the puck into the slot for Lozovvy, who patiently outwaited the defenseman and then snapped a shot just inside the far post.
The ice was now plainly tilted toward the Jackson net. And, to the dismay of coach Fassbender, the Hornets were a little careless while going guns-blazing for more goals. Jackson United forward Matt Bradley scored two breakaway goals 1:12 apart on Griffin Granica. The Hornets made things interesting with a couple of late penalties assessed against Alexander Lozovvy. But Saline killed both penalties off without allowing a serious scoring chance and Granica shut the door the rest of the way.
Salt Springs Brewery 3 Stars
- Brendan Murphy – Scored a goal and added two assists. The Jackson goalie is almost surely going home with a bruised hand after some of his glove saves on Murphy.
- Mason Ausmus – Nearly scored a beauty on a great rush in the first period when he turned a defenseman inside-out. In the second, he opened the scoring with a 150-foot rush that ended with a slick shot past the goalie.
- Mikhail Lozovvy – Lozovvy has had good reach and slippery moves for a couple seasons. But he’s a stronger skater now, and he’s developed a killer shot. He nearly scored a couple beauties in the second period with a nice move up the left wing and a wrap-around attempt. He made it 4-0 with a great shot in the third period.