Before there were the Bulldogs, there were the Cobras.
That was the nickname of Crawford County’s prep hockey team during a span of a few years in the late 1970s, right when the program was first established.
Today, prior to Meadville’s 7:45 p.m. face-off with Mt. Lebanon at the DeArment Ice Arena, the Bulldogs will be honoring their fanged origins with a Crawford County Cobras recognition night.
“The sweaters they had were disgusting,” remembers Dan Craven, who is organizing the recognition night. “They were green and gold and white. And the cobra on the front was like a bad tattoo.”
This was in the early days of the Meadville Area Recreation Complex ice rink, which at the time wasn’t enclosed.
“There used to be a chain link fence, basically, around the rink,” said Craven. “As the years went on, they eventually put some siding on it, closed it up. But it used to get pretty cold there. I could remember when we had just moved here, I remember standing there watching a game and the snow would be falling on your shoes.”
Into this atmosphere came the Cobras, which was a high school-age extension of Meadville’s then-burgeoning youth program.
“It came about after the first couple years of Crawford County Youth Hockey,” said Greg Carpenter, who was the coach of the Cobras and is considered the chief architect of organized hockey in Meadville.
“As those kids got older, they didn’t want to stop playing hockey,” he said. “We wanted a place for kids 16, 17 or 18 to play hockey, because youth hockey doesn’t go that high. We wanted to make a more lasting place for them to play.”
Those first few years weren’t exactly a success as far as wins and losses were concerned.
“We played in the Lakeshore Hockey League — Prep, McDowell, Fairview and Erie All-City, that’s what they were called then,” said Carpenter. “It took us three years until we won one game. We won two games that year, the third year.
“Prep and McDowell, they just joked with us,” he added. “They would beat us 18 or 19 goals to none.
“But you have to do that when you’re starting out. Those kids (from Prep and McDowell) had all played years and years of hockey. Those teams had been around for awhile. We were just brand new. Even CCYHA was brand new. They had only been in existence a few years. There were no competitive hockey players, really. One or two, but that doesn’t make a team.”
While they weren’t racking up the wins, the Cobras were instead laying a foundation for what would become one of the most successful high school hockey programs in the state of Pennsylvania.
After a few years, the team got permission to use the Bulldogs mascot, tying it informally with the high school. Then in 1986, current head coach Jamie Plunkett took over the program and turned it into a powerhouse that would eventually win eight state championships.
“My first year of coaching the Bulldogs, we beat Prep for the first time,” said Plunkett. “And I had heard these stories about how bad it used to be — double-digit losses and things like that. So when we were finally able to break through, it was a milestone. It was a win for not only the current team but for a lot of the kids that had paved the way.”
And that’s why the Cobras are getting honored tonight.
Invitations to attend tonight’s game against Mt. Lebanon have been extended to all former Cobras players that are still in the area. And coach Carpenter is planning on being there as well. And there will be a special acknowledgement of those former players before the Bulldogs’ game.
“We had fun,” said Carpenter. “The people were excited about playing hockey. Everyone was excited about it. We didn’t have any skills. But we had fun. It was fun.”
Before there were the Bulldogs, there were the Cobras.
Pens squander 3-0 lead as Jackets even up series
Brandon Dubinsky scored with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Nick Foligno’s wrist shot just inside the blue line 2:49 into the extra session gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.
The Blue Jackets overcame a 3-0 deficit for their first home playoff victory in the franchise’s 13 seasons, sending the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Saturday night tied 2-2.
Panthers rally to beat Huskies
Through three innings Tuesday afternoon at home, it looked like it was going to be a very long day for the Saegertown baseball team.
The wind and the cold didn’t appear to bother Harbor Creek starting pitcher Issac Mattson as the senior struck out nine batters through the first three frames, including four strikeouts in the first inning alone.
Greggs and Bison knock Bulldogs down to earth
Back to reality.
Coming off one of its biggest wins in recent years on Friday with a 10-5 victory over previously unbeaten Saegertown, Meadville fell victim to possibly being over confident against Fort LeBoeuf.
Devils sweep Tigers
Just six days earlier, the Cambridge Springs boys volleyball coaching staff sat on the sidelines at Saegertown High School perplexed and disappointed as they watched the Blue Devils give away opportunity after opportunity.
Cardinals overcome offensive woes to remain unbeaten
Abby Clulow is confident that sooner or later the bats are going to come alive for the Cochranton softball team. She is also pretty confident that until then the Lady Cardinals will continue to find a way to get the job done.
After all, how could she feel any differently?
Brewers win in 14th after early brawl with Pirates
Ryan Braun homered in the ninth inning to tie it, then Khris Davis hit a home run in the 14th that put Milwaukee ahead for good.
Yet those were hardly the big blows that attracted all the attention Sunday in the Brewers’ 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Pivotal Game 3 awaits Pens and Blue Jackets
Not so long ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets were the worst team in the NHL.
Now they’re heading home for tonight’s Game 3 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series with the star-studded Pittsburgh Penguins hoping to make even more history.
Blue Jackets edge Penguins 4-3 in double overtime
Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
College Softball: DePauw earns NCAC sweep over Allegheny
It’s gut-check time for the Allegheny College softball team.
Big first inning leads Meadville to win over Saegertown
So, how does one go about beating the Saegertown baseball team? It’s a question that District 10 programs have been asking themselves for years now.
- More Sports Headlines
- Pens squander 3-0 lead as Jackets even up series