AUBURN — Despite dressing a lineup with two fist-fulls of freshmen, Leavitt established a physical presence early Friday. The Hornets carried that physical play over to the scoreboard and earned a 3-1 victory over Edward Little in the opening round of the Gipper’s Holiday Tournament at Ingersoll Arena.

“It’s about time we had a physical presence,” Leavitt coach Ronnie Rouillard said. “I think a lot of them finally figured out that by hitting them, we knock them off the puck and took them off their game a bit.”

Eagan Nadeau made the most of his move from defense to forward for the Hornets. An offensive defenseman by trade, he scored Leavitt’s first goal and assisted on the clincher into an empty net, while linemate Kevin Theiss added a pair of goals in the win.

“He was a bit reluctant,” Rouillard said, “but he helped get the puck and keep it down low, and he helped to carry the play in the zone, which is what we wanted from him up there.”

On the back end, and perhaps more importantly, Cody Violette turned the Eddies back time after time on more than nine minutes of power play time. Violette finished with 25 saves on 26 shots.

“He shut the down on their power plays, he saved our butts on those power plays,” Rouillard said. “They were taking bang-bang shots a few times down low.”

“We ran into a hot goaltender tonight,” EL coach Craig Latuscha said. “We outshot them and outplayed them a lot of the time, but their goalie was big. We outshot them almost two-to-one. We need to capitalize on the opportunities we get when we get the chance.”

Edward Little failed to cash in on an extended 5-on-3 power play early in the first period, and almost immediately gave the Hornets the same opportunity going the other way.

Leavitt didn’t miss its chance.

Nadeau grabbed a rebound at the left circle, looked back to the point and then twirled and fired the puck past EL keeper Alan Nelson just after the first EL penalty had expired to put the Hornets on top by a goal.

EL fired a barrage of shots at Violette on another power play late in the first frame, but the Leavitt keeper remained stout and sent the game into the second with his squad holding a 1-0 advantage.

Despite a heavy advantage to the Eddies in the second period, the Hornets added to their lead 12:44 into the second period as Theiss dug the puck loose in front and beat Nelson low to push the Hornets’ lead to 2-0.

EL finally solved Violette, but it took some work, and the Eddies’ fourth power play of the contest. Dylan Nadeau banged home a rebound at the left post on his team’s 12th shot of the period to cut the Hornets’ lead in half.

Theiss, after missing an open net wide right, tipped in Nadeau’s offering several seconds later to cap the scoring.

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