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March 10, 2014

H.S. Hockey: Bulldogs capture Lakeshore championship

ERIE — ERIE — For some of Meadville’s seniors it hadn’t sank in yet.

“Maybe a couple days from now, or in a couple weeks,” said goalie Austin Guanzon.

For others, it made the night a little sad.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Will DeArment. “I’ve played hockey for so long, it’s kind of amazing all the things we’ve been through, all the friends I’ve made, that it’s finally over. It feels like it went by way too fast.”

Yet, when they walked out of the JMC Ice Arena on Monday night, they did so for the final time as members of the Meadville Bulldog hockey team.

Yet, they did so as champions, hanging on for a 5-4 win over Fairview in the Lakeshore Hockey League championship game.

“It’s kind of surreal at the moment,” said senior Owen Miller. “You don’t really realize that it’s the last game. But right now I’m just riding the win and I’m just excited for our team.”

It was the third straight Lakeshore title for the Bulldogs. They finish the season with a record of 11-14-1.

“Obviously, that was a goal this season, to win this,” said John Gizzie, who also played his final game with the ’Dogs last night. “And that was a battle out there. We had to persevere and battle through the adversity to get the ‘W’. That’s what matters.”

It got tense in the end, though.

Meadville led 4-1 in the second period thanks to power play goals by Tim Crow and Josh Orr, an even strength tally by Steven Shafer and then a short-handed goal by Orr.

“I was pleased with special teams,” said Meadville head coach Jamie Plunkett. “We had a shorthanded goal — Josh Orr — two power play goals. So it was nice to see the special teams contribute.”

Orr’s first goal was a bit fluky.

“Yeah,” he said. “Bryan Ray threw it in front of the net. Very good pass. I think he was looking for me or John Gizzie. And it kind of hit me in the head and just bounced up. I saw it and threw an elbow at it and it went in. A goal is a goal.”

The short-handed goal had quite a bit more skill involved. He intercepted a pass at the Tigers’ blue line and headed off on a breakaway towards Fairview stopper Connor Cross.

“I’m not a great shooter,” said Orr. “But he had the right side wide open. I just buried the ‘Geno.’”

He ended the play dangling from the goal’s crossbar.

“I didn’t want to hit the goalie afterwards. I kind of felt like ‘The Mighty Ducks,’ jumping up on the net like that. Definitely a nice goal to end my career on, though.”

Fairview managed to trim that lead to 4-3 after the Tigers’ Jordan Kita scored his second and third goals of the evening.

But Owen Miller made it a two-goal game about 45 seconds later. Orr lined him up with a nice pass from behind the net, and Miller buried it.

“Great feed by Josh,” said Miller. “I was just able to put it away. It was blocker side. At the time I didn’t know it was going to be the game-winner. But it was, and that feels awesome going out that way.”

The game wasn’t over, though. Kita struck for his fourth goal of the evening with 2:22 remaining, making it 5-4.

However, try as the Tigers might — even pulling the goalie with about 30 seconds left — the Bulldogs wouldn’t allow them to climb all the way back.

“Oh no, we definitely had to earn it. It wasn’t just handed to us,” said DeArment.

“I give Fairview a lot of credit,” said Plunkett. “Every game this year has been close. I give them a lot of credit for not quitting. They came back and they had us backing up for the last couple minutes.”

They had to go out scrapping. But it was with a trophy. And that suits the seniors just fine.

“I’ve been playing for four years, so it’s hard to leave the team,” said Orr. “They’re like a family in there. But at the same time, it is time to move on, to leave high school, to go on to bigger and better things. If I do continue to play hockey and have a new family and meet some new friends, Meadville will always be something I’m proud of.”

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