Meadville Tribune


January 16, 2014

St. Ignatius again the team to beat at Bulldog Invitational

MEADVILLE — Do any of the teams slated to take part in the 18th annual Meadville Bulldog Invitational hockey tournament have what it takes to unseat St. Ignatius?

The Cleveland, Ohio-based Wildcats are the winners of the last four Bulldog Invitational titles, and they own the most titles of any program that has participated in the event with seven overall. The squad also owns the best all-time record at the tournament at 51-19-3, a winning percentage of .719.

Seven other teams, including the host Bulldogs, will take their shot during this year’s tournament, which gets underway today at the George S. DeArment Ice Arena. Meadville and North Hills will get the show going with a game starting a 4 p.m. Action continues through the night on Friday and all day Saturday. And the tourney concludes Sunday with the semifinals and the championship game.

Yet, it’s not going to be easy to knock the Wildcats off their perch. The Great Lakes Hockey League squad enters the tournament with the best regular season record of any of the eight teams in the tourney, going 16-3-4 so far.

However, Ignatius should be faced with some decent competition in its search for its fifth consecutive invitational trophy. Among its toughest opponents should be Bethel Park. The Blackhawks enter with a record of 16-5-0, making them one of the top teams in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League’s Class AAA .

“Yeah, Bethel Park, I think, is going to be real strong,” said Meadville head coach Jamie Plunkett. “They’re having a great year.”

Cathedral Prep also has a shot. The Ramblers, playing in Class AA in the PIHL, are off to a good start this season at 13-6-2. Upper St. Clair also enters with a winning record at 12-7-2.

 Four other squads enter the tournament with sub-.500 records. Among them is another Cleveland School in St. Edwards, which is 11-12-0. St. Ed’s was the Bulldog Invite runner-up last season to St. Ignatius. The Eagles are winners of three Bulldog Invitational titles and they are the last program to win one (in 2009) prior to Iggy’s current run.

Also in the hunt is North Hills (8-11-0), Sylvania Northview (7-10-0) and host Meadville, which is 7-17-4 this season when combining the records for both the Bulldogs and their midget team alter ego, the Crawford County Flames.

Meadville is not only aiming for its first berth into the tournament semifinals since 2011, the Bulldogs are also looking for their first tournament victory since that same year. The ’Dogs have gone 0-2-1 in each of the previous two tournaments.

In order to break that skid, the Bulldogs, averaging just 2.9 goals per game this season, will have to focus on offense.

“Goals had been hard to come by this year,” said Plunkett. “We seem to spend a lot of time in practice emphasizing shooting the puck and going to net because it’s been a real challenge for us this year to score.”

Leading Meadville this season has been Bryan Ray, who has a team-best 18 goals following his two-goal performance against Jamestown (N.Y.) this past Tuesday. Josh Orr follows with 14 goals and leads the team in assists with 15. The next leading scorer is Owen Miller with nine goals.

There will be plenty of other top-notch marksmen on the ice this weekend. For example, Bethel Park’s Christian Siak leads the PIHL’s Class AAA division with 22 goals this season. He’s also got 10 assists. Upper St. Clair has a good scorer in Austin Cassidy, who has 16 goals and eight assists. Cathedral Prep has a decent offensive trio in Ben Eliason (11 goals, 27 assists), Trevor Faulkner (12 goals, 19 assists) and John Colvin (13 goals, 12 assists). And North Hills has a skater to watch in Brett Berner (15 goals, 11 assists).

Once again, it’s going to be a tough field.

“I get criticized sometimes, why do we bring in the teams we do?” said coach Plunkett. “Well, If you want to raise your program up you’ve got to play tough opponents. I know there is a fine line between bringing in quality programs and bringing in programs that are way beyond your skill level. But the people still like coming here. I think the parents put on a great tournament. That’s why we get so many great teams at the end of the day. And we’re also looking to improve the kids and improve the team. If we wanted to win a tournament we could get teams that we could easily beat. But I don’t think that will accomplish our goals at end of the day, which is for the kids to get better.”

Text Only
  • Sam Kinter Cardinals’ offense awakens in win over Panthers

    It was bound to happen.
    At some point this season, Cochranton was going to put together a complete performance and allow head coach Mark McGuire and his staff to breathe a little easier in the late innings.
    On Thursday afternoon the Cardinals, looking to finish the first half of the Region 3 season unbeaten, finally came through.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Eagles soar past ’Dogs

    Sometimes getting back on the field is just what the doctor ordered.
    Everyone remembers Michael Jordan’s 1997 “Flu Game”, and Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series heroics of hitting a walk-off home run while battling a stomach virus and two injured legs has been well documented.

    April 24, 2014

  • Bears 10-run Blue Devils

    Union City’s bats have awakened.
    Putting a smile on head coach Frank Cutshall’s face, the Bears finally got it going offensively Thursday afternoon as they rolled to an 11-1 victory over Cambridge Springs in Region 3 action.

    April 24, 2014

  • Blue Jackets celebrate 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.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kyle Wise 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.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 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.

    April 22, 2014

  • 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.

    April 22, 2014

  • Abby Clulow 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?

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fight.jpg 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.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 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.

    April 20, 2014

Sports Scoreboard
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Business Marquee
AP Video

In terms of the overall livability and workability of the City of Meadville, which component of the city’s infrastructure should receive top priority?

Stormwater control
It’s too difficult to single one out
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide