Clayton Keller isn’t from Minnesota, but his teammates filled him in on just how important the Sabres’ game against Benilde-St. Margaret’s is.

Keller got the message.

One of two sophomores on the Shattuck-St. Mary’s boys prep hockey team, Keller netted a hat trick as the Sabres cruised to an 8-1 win over the Red Knights on Saturday afternoon in the New Rink. Colt Conrad also scored twice and added an assist, and Alex Rodriguez and Chase Phelps both recorded three-point games to help the Sabres avenge last year’s 5-2 loss to BSM.

“A few of the guys from Minnesota told me how this team is really good and we want to beat them,” said Keller, who is from Swansea, Ill. “… It feels good to get the win against a bunch of Minnesota kids.”

Keller was a center on the bantam team last year − his first year in the SSM program − and played center for the prep squad until last weekend against St. Andrew’s when he was moved to left wing on a line with Larry Jungwirth and centered by Ryan Norman. He played there again on Saturday, and that top line accounted for seven points.

“It’s different (on the wing),” Keller said. “It’s a little bit less work down low but I like playing with my line mates Ryan Norman and Larry Jungwirth. It’s easy to play with them.”

The Sabres played two MSHSL teams last year, losing 3-2 to St. Thomas Academy in overtime and losing 5-2 to BSM a few weeks later. Sabres coach Tom Ward has said before these are tough games for his club since its opponents always want to knock off the well-known prep school, but SSM took its first − and only − MSHSL game of the year in convincing fashion over the 10th-ranked team in Class AA.

“These are about the only games that anyone in the state of Minnesota outside of Faribault sees us play or sees results of,” Ward said, “so they are important for our program. You stub your toe in these games and the people in Thief River Falls, it’s the only game they see … and that’s not real cool.”

SSM (28-7-2) stole the momentum early when Conrad scored on a wrist shot 2 minutes, 11 seconds into the first period. That led to a 2-0 lead at the first intermission after Keller scored at 12:41 of the first.

“That’s a huge goal,” said Keller of the early 1-0 lead. “Without that it would have been a closer game without the huge start.”

Mark Kaske scored for the Red Knights (12-6-2) at 2:01 of the second period to make it a one-goal game, but Phelps scored on a rebound at 4:47 of the second to push the lead back to two. The Sabres won the puck in the corner and Phelps passed to Anthony Petrella, who put a shot on net. Phelps cleaned up the rebound to notch the first of SSM’s six straight goals to end the game.

Keller added his second goal − a rebound he put in the top shelf from the doorstep on a power play at 15:44 − to give SSM at 4-1 lead after two periods.

Third-period goals from Petrella, Roy Radke, Conrad and Keller put the game out of reach.

“I thought our goaltending was good and we played pretty good in general,” Ward said. “I thought our depth took over at the end of the game.”

SSM out-shot BSM 40-20, and Jeremy Brodeur made 19 saves for the Sabres. SSM finished 2 for 4 on the power play and held the Red Knights power play scoreless on four chances.

“These are difficult games for us,” Ward said, “but it’s always good to come out and win no matter who you are playing. I thought our guys played pretty good.”

SSM hosts rival Culver Academy for a pair of games next weekend at 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday.

GAME STATISTICS

BSM 0 1 0 1

SSM 2 2 4 8

First period

Scoring: 1. SSM-Colt Conrad (Alex Rodriguez, Chase Phelps) 2:11; 2. SSM-Clayton Keller (Ryan Norman, Larry Jungwirth) 12:41.

Second period

Scoring: 3. BSM-Mark Kaske (Auggie Moore) 2:01; 4. SSM-Phelps (Anthony Petrella, Rodriguez) 4:47; 5. SSM-Keller (Norman, Jungwirth) pp 15:11.

Third period

Scoring: 6. SSM-Petrella (Rodriguez, Phelps) 8:11; 7. SSM-Roy Radke (Conrad, Alex Falconer) 8:40; 8. SSM-Conrad (Ryan Lindgren, Broydon Stufko) pp 13:19; 9. SSM-Keller (Rem Pitlick, Tyler Rockwell) 14:54.

Reach Sports Editor Josh Berhow at 333-3119, or follow him on Twitter.com @FDNjoshberhow

Reach Sports Editor Josh Berhow at 333-3119, or follow him on Twitter.com @FDNjoshberhow

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