By Pete Chiodo
If one were to create a line graph of the Meadville Hockey team’s successes and failures this season, that graph would include two distinct, lofty peaks.
The first peak would be found on Nov. 7, when Meadville drubbed Fort LeBoeuf 9-0. The other would be from Monday night, as the Bulldogs continued its domination over the Bison with a 7-0 romp over their Lakeshore Hockey League opponent at the George S. DeArment Ice Arena.
“Well, you know, we’ve been on the other side of those on a couple of occasions, so I can feel for what they’re going through,” said Meadville head coach Jamie Plunkett.
Those two finals against LeBoeuf were the most lopsided victories for Meadville this season.
“We did a lot of good things out there,” said Plunkett. “We’ve been trying to emphasize scoring. We’ve been trying to do more offensive-related things in practice, positioning, shooting, trying to control the puck in that end of the ice. ... So it was good to see the kids get some points tonight.”
With the victory, the Bulldogs improved to 7-11-1 overall (10-22-4 when combining the record of their midget hockey alter ego, the Crawford County Flames) and 6-0-1 in the Lakeshore Hockey League.
“We’ve really improved,” said Bulldogs freshman Barrett Hoffman. “Our record doesn’t show it, but we have improved from our midget games. ... It’s a good feeling.”
Hoffman should be feeling good. The defenseman tallied five points in the match, including a pair of goals and three assists.
“They fought. We fought. They were physical. We were physical,” said Hoffman. “We took shots and that just built our momentum up.”
Hoffman inked his first tally just a 1:40 into last night’s game. Will DeArment and Luke Triola had assists.
Just 38 seconds later, Meadville went up 2-0 when Bryan Ray scored off an assist from Josh Orr. The ’Dogs were rolling.
They would get back on the scoreboard halfway through period No. 2 on Hoffman’s second goal of the evening. With the ’Dogs on the power play, Hoffman received a nice centering pass from Trevor Johnson and then slapped it in from about 10 feet out.
With two minutes left in the second period, LeBoeuf goalie Caleb McLaughlin blocked Hoffman’s attempt at a hat trick. But Kameron Betts was there to punch in the rebound. The Bulldogs led 4-0. Hoffman had his third point of the game with the assist.
Meadville then rang up three more goals in the third. Cody Passilla knocked back a rebound to make it 5-0 with 9:44 to play. Hoffman had the assist there as well.
Then Triola rang up two goals in rapid succession. His hard angle shot with 3:38 left ramped up McLaughlin’s stick and ripped the upper corner of the net. DeArment had his second assist of the night.
Then 17 second later Triola struck again, delivering a turn-around back-hander into the twine to put the final marker on the board. Tim Crow and Hoffman assisted.
Sam Kineston held on for the shutout victory in goal for Meadville, stopping a dozen shots.
Meadville peppered McLaughlin with 40 shots on goal. He stopped 33.
“It’s going to get a whole lot more difficult,” said Plunkett. “Our next away game is at Wheeling. We have a tie and a loss with them already. Then next Monday night we have Bethel Park. And they are as good as it gets in Triple-A in the state. So that will be a test for us. Then the Monday after that is Erie Cathedral Prep, and they’re having a very good season at the Double-A level. So, it’s going to get more challenging as we go through the month of February.”