By Pete Chiodo
The Meadville Tribune
November 6, 2012 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
Josh Orr got his first varsity hat trick, freshman Trevor Johnson earned his first-ever varsity goal, and the Meadville Bulldogs hockey team kicked off the Lakeshore Hockey League season with a 9-2 blowout over Fairview on Monday at the DeArment Ice Arena.
“We have a lot of talent on this team,” said the junior Orr. “And when we put it together it works. But single-handedly, trying to do it ourselves, we have issues. But (Monday) we put it together, we played as a team, and we played well.”
The win improves the program’s record to 7-5 on the season, 1-0 in the LHL.
It was Meadville’s third game in as many days, and the team’s second win in a row following including Sunday’s 4-0 shutout over Mt. Lebanon.
“We’ve been inching along,” said Meadville head coach Jamie Plunkett. “And offensively, (Monday) was a big night. I’ve said all along that we’re a team that’s going to struggle to score goals. But I thought the last couple of days we’ve really done some good things offensively and created some scoring chances. So, hopefully we can continue on with that.”
Meadville had some quality scoring chances early in yesterday’s matchup with Fairview. But it took a little time for those chances to start paying off.
The visiting Tigers were able to strike first when Tyler Wieczorek stuffed it into the corner of the net past Meadville goalie Austin Guanzon with just 1:07 elapsed in the contest.
And try as they might, the Bulldogs couldn’t seem to come up with an answer.
“I think we were trying to get the perfect play,” said Bulldogs junior John Gizzie. “And, really, we should have been simplifying the game and putting shots on net and scoring.”
Eventually, that’s what started to happen.
With 1:12 left in the first period, Gizzie had a nice pass up to Orr from behind the net. Orr stopped the puck and flicked it towards goal where it slipped past Tigers keeper Caleb McLaughlin, tying the game at 1-1.
Then to start the second, Cade Nickerson won the opening face-off and got the puck to Rob Stainbrook. And just inside the blue line, Stainbrook launched a slap shot at the net that whizzed by McLaughlin to give the ’Dogs the lead just six ticks into the period.
“Yeah, that was a rocket,” Plunkett said about the goal.
The Bulldogs would add two more goals in the second period. About a minute and a half after Stainbrook’s goal, Orr notched his second of the match, tapping in a rebound. Gizzie was credited with the assist on that goal as well.
Then with 3:19 to go in the half, McLaughlin had a pile of bodies around and on top of him, allowing Bryan Ray to slip the puck into the net from a hard angle, making it 4-1 ’Dogs.
Just before the period ended, however, Fairview cut that lead to 4-2 after Guanzon goofed and left the net just as Fairview’s Andy Metzler took possession of the puck in Meadville’s end, skated through the neutral zone and chucked it into the goal for an impromptu empty net score.
“(Guanzon) thought there was a delayed penalty,” said Plunkett. “I think the referee had his hand up for either an icing call or a delayed offside. It happens.”
In the third, however, Meadville put the game far out of reach with a five-goal explosion.
The freshman Johnson got it going with his first career goal four minutes in. Gizzie stole the puck in Fairview’s zone. His attempt was blocked. Johnson collected the rebound and buried it.
Two minutes later, Chace Vickers was skating towards the net with the puck and had a defender standing him up, when he slung the puck at the goal and it went through, making it a 6-2 game.
Then, halfway through the period, the Bulldogs rang up three goals in a matter of 32 seconds. First, Orr completed the hat trick, punching in a rebound during a power play. Well ... he at least was credited with punching in the rebound.
“Yeah, me and Robbie were both there,” said Orr. “I think he hit it in. We both swung at it, but I’m pretty sure he hit it in. I just got lucky with the credit. I pointed to him. He put his hands up. I thought he got it.”
Eighteen seconds later, Gizzie put a goal on the stat sheet. And 14 second after that, Ray recorded his second goal of the game, sliding in towards the net backwards, and flinging a blind back-hander at the goal that somehow got through.
Gizzie had an assist on that last goal as well, giving him four helpers to go along with his goal. Ray had a pair of goals and an assist and Stainbrook had a goal and two assists.
Meadville had 31 shots on goal in the game.
“Actually, I was pretty pleased with the energy level,” said Plunkett. “I thought we would be dragging. We had practice Friday, a game Saturday, we had about a 60 minute skate on Sunday, a game in Pittsburgh Sunday night and a game (Monday). But I think the energy level was pretty good, surprisingly.”
Guanzon finished with 15 saves for the win.