By Pete Chiodo
December 4, 2012 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
Cade Nickerson is a pretty helpful guy to be out on the ice with. Not only will he assist on two of your three goals, he’ll even help clean up the lids that litter the playing surface following your hat trick, as he did for line mate Rob Stainbrook during the Meadville Bulldogs’ 7-3 win over Jamestown (N.Y.) Monday night at the DeArment Ice Arena.
“I thought Cade and Rob played really well together,” said Meadville head coach Jamie Plunkett. “They’ve played together a long time. In fact, I remember one year I helped out with the squirt travel team and Cade and Rob were on that team. So I’ve watched those two kids grow up.”
They certainly had a mature performance last night. It was Stainbrook’s third career hat trick and his second of the season. And Nickerson added one goal to go along with his two assists.
“There were times in (Monday’s) game where Rob just controlled the play,” said Plunkett. “And when he gets involved with the play — he’s a big body and he’s tough to knock off the puck — he’s an effective kid.
“And since late last year, Cade has more confidence carrying the puck. He’s making plays. He turned a couple of their defensemen inside out (on Monday).”
Thanks to the efforts of those two seniors — as well as a two-goal night by Owen Miller, another goal by Derek Richardson, and 21 saves by goalie Austin Guanzon — the Bulldogs complete the first half of their Lakeshore Hockey League schedule at 6-0. The team is also 11-1 overall.
It was Meadville’s second victory over Jamestown this season. On Nov. 15, the Bulldogs beat the Red Raiders 2-1 up in New York.
“(Jamestown) came out really hard in that game,” said Stainbrook. “And they came out really hard in this one. It’s a very physical team. But I was surprised that we came out as hard as we did, and we took it to them. It was a very physical game, one of the most physical we’ve played in so far.”
Indeed, for the first couple periods no skater on either side could as much as touch the puck without expecting to get hammered into the boards.
However, Jamestown’s Collin Abbott somehow managed to slip through the fray and get a goal past Guanzon four minutes into the game, giving the Raiders an early lead.
That lead would stand all the way into the second period. But that’s when Stainbrook got hot.
With three minutes gone in the second, Stainbrook knocked Jamestown’s Justin Andriaccio off the puck behind the Raiders’ net, then skated around the pipes and forced the puck through the five-hole to tie the game.
A minute and a half later, Miller notched his first goal of the night during a Bulldogs power play.
“It was a nice rebound that came out,” said Miller. “I was pretty excited, because that was my first goal since the first two games of the season. Getting back and scoring is always a good thing.”
One minute later, Derek Richardson snatched a turnover in the offensive end, and turned it into an unassisted goal, giving Meadville a 3-1 lead.
Jamestown’s Gibson Stuart scored to make it 3-2 with four minutes to play before the break. But Meadville still had time to tally two more goals.
First, Stainbrook had his second, getting the feed from Nickerson.
“It was a lot like the first goal,” said Stainbrook. “Five-hole. It was like déjà vu.”
Then, with 2.3 seconds left in the period, the two teams faced off in Jamestown’s zone. The puck made it to Miller’s stick. And he zipped it past Raiders’ goalie Tom Fales just as the buzzer sounded.
“We pulled Austin (for the face-off). We pulled him out,” said Miller. “So I came pretty low. Defensemen usually stay back by the blue line. But I came down pretty low. And Rob just kicked it out to me. I looked at it a little too long because I didn’t think I had it. Shot it. Then I turned around and saw the ref pointing. So, I couldn’t have been happier.”
Nickerson then notched his goal early in the third, using an assist by Trevor Johnson.
And later, with under two minutes to play and the ’Dogs on a power play, Nickerson corralled the puck near Jamestown’s blue line. He slipped it behind him to Josh Orr. Orr streaked towards the Raiders’ net and was one-on-one with Fales. But instead of shooting, he turned around and found Stainbrook coming in. He handed the puck off to his teammate, who tapped it top shelf for the triple.
“Josh Orr made a very unselfish play, giving me the pass,” said Stainbrook. “He had a really good scoring opportunity. And he knew that I wanted the hat trick, so he gave it up for me. He made a really good pass. All around, that line, it was a really nice play.
Plunkett agreed, saying, “I thought that last goal that we scored, that play was very unselfish of Josh Orr. He could have shot it. He was in great position to shoot. ... That’s one of the prettiest plays I’ve seen in a long time.”