By Pete Chiodo
Time ran out in the third period with the score tied 3-3. The Meadville hockey team congregated around its bench to prepare for overtime. But the Fairview hockey team skated out onto the ice and patted its goalie on the helmet, congratulating him on a job well done.
It turns out that the job was, in fact, done. After some discussion between the two teams and the refs in the middle, both squads lined up to shake hands. The game was over. Meadville and Fairview, facing off in a Lakeshore Hockey League game Monday night at the DeArment Ice Center, ended in a 3-3 tie.
“It’s a Lakeshore rule,” said Fairview head coach Tim Ward. “In league games you don’t play an overtime. League games, unfortunately, end in ties.”
This was, it appeared, news to the Bulldogs.
“I know at one time they had that rule. I thought they had changed it,” said Meadville head coach Jamie Plunkett. “We had the ice time. I just think we should be playing overtime if you’ve got the time. But if that’s the rule, that’s the rule.”
It is the rule, according to the Lakeshore rulebook posted on the league’s website.
“If I had a power play I’d want to play overtime too,” said Ward. Meadville had a little over a minute left on a man advantage when the game ended.
“They basically acted like we were afraid to play the game,” he added. “The rule is, games that end regulation in a tie, league games, that’s the way they end. (We’d) be happy to play overtime. It’s not in the rules. And we were down a man so, I mean, I’m not complaining. As much as (Meadville) wanted to play an overtime, that’s not an option. It’s a league rule.”
On the other hand, Plunkett wasn’t exactly keen on seeing last night’s performance continue, admitting, “ In many ways we were lucky we didn’t lose the game.”
In November, Meadville beat Fairview 9-2.
“I was pretty disappointed,” Plunkett said about last night’s rematch. “I don’t think we were ready to play. And I thought our lack of composure throughout the game ... we just didn’t help ourselves with some bad penalties. I thought our hockey IQ was very low in a lot of situations. Just dumb plays.
“For example, at the end of the game we have a man advantage, there’s under a minute to go, we don’t get any shots, we’re playing around with the puck, and we’re lucky we didn’t give up a short-handed goal coming the other way. That’s just not smart hockey.”
The Bulldogs, who are now 14-4-1 overall and 6-0-1 in the LHL, started out well enough. They out-shot the Tigers (6-2-1 in the Lakeshore) 11-5 in the first period and got on the scoreboard three minutes into the frame when Josh Orr won a face-off in Fairview’s end and slung the puck over to John Gizzie, who buried it on a one-timer.
However, things went haywire for the ’Dogs in the second period. Vince Paczkoskie and Derek Richardson were hit with simultaneous penalties, giving Fairview a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes.
A little more than a minute later, Fairview’s Andy Metzler made the Bulldogs pay, wristing a shot past Meadville goalie Sam Kineston. Sixteen seconds after that, Metzler returned to the back of the net, putting the Tigers in front 2-1.
Meadville quickly tied it back up, though. Orr grabbed a turnover in the Tigers’ end and had nothing but ice in front of him. A pair of Fairview skaters flanked him on both sides. They collapsed on him and brought him down. The ref raised his arm for a delayed penalty. But Orr, sliding head-first on his belly, swiped at the puck with his stick and somehow angled it past the Tigers’ tender Sam Duncan.
Both teams would score once more in the period. Fairview’s Greg Berdis pushed his team ahead 3-2 with a goal with seven minutes remaining. But then Meadville’s Mike Bogardus tied it up at 3 when he batted in a rebound off a slap shot by Bryan Ray.
Neither team would score in the third period. Meadville had a full two minutes with a two-man advantage but couldn’t score. And the Bulldogs gave Fairview their second 5-on-3 opportunity of the game in the third, but the Bulldogs’ special teams kept the Tigers out of the net.
“I think we weren’t able to keep our emotions in check,” said Plunkett. “I think sometimes our kids are worried about getting even if they don’t get a call. And they get so focused on that they get taken off their game. So their opponents have accomplished what they wanted. That’s a part of hockey. You have to be able to control your emotions. And tonight we had a couple kids that just didn’t do a very good job of that.”
Meadville ended up out-shooting Fairview 34-22. Duncan had 31 saves for the Tigers. Kineston finished with 19 saves.