About half the lights over the ice at DeArment Ice Arena went out midway through the first period. They never came back on, which is fitting because Meadville coach Jamie Plunkett said he feels like he’s been waiting all season for the light to go on in his players’ heads.

The Bulldogs, who took a one-goal lead early in the first period, dropped a 3-1 non-league decision to Bethel Park last night.

“I don’t understand. We are not that talented. We have to work hard every shift,” Plunkett said of the message he has tried to make clear since the season started in October. “I can’t understand why we pass up shooting opportunities. We’ve got guys who want to stand around and stick handle and we are not good enough to do that.”

A blown breaker knocked out about half the lights, and when it was determined the lights couldn’t be fixed until later in the night or by today, the coaches agreed to continue the game after a 10-minute delay.

“When I heard (Meadville assistant coach Dick) Holabaugh couldn’t fix it, I knew it was serious,” Bethel Park coach Jim McVay said. “We both felt like as long as there wasn’t a safety issue, we would play. It’s hockey.”

Meadville played in the darkened end in the second period, when neither team scored. The teams switched ends midway through the third period. Bethel Park scored one goal at each end.

“I don’t think the lights were an issue,” McVay said. “I think it might have been a little tougher on the goalies on long shots.”

Plunkett was at a loss to explain why his team couldn’t capitalize on that to generate any scoring chances.

“We have to shoot the puck,” Plunkett said. “We got a lot of kids who are not the most gifted offensively. We need grinders, guys to go after loose pucks, (guys to) be more physical. Guys who will compete on a shift-by-shift basis.

“We need guys with a little more sandpaper in their game. We’ve got a lot of guys content to stand around and let somebody else do the dirty work.”

The turning point Monday came at the start of third period.

After Bethel Park’s Michael Shipley took a roughing penalty with 40 seconds left in the second period, Meadville had one minute, 20 seconds of power play time to start the third with the score tied 1-1.

The Blackhawks bottled up the Bulldogs, who couldn’t get out of their own zone for the entire 1:20, despite having the man advantage.

“The start of the third was embarrassing,” Plunkett said. “The first four or five minutes of that period were just terrible.”

Just about three minutes after the successful penalty kill, Bethel Park defenseman Jake Brown lifted a backhander past Meadville goalie Gino Damasceno’s glove to give Bethel Park a 2-1 lead with 10:11 left in the game.

“I thought Damasceno played well,” Plunkett said. “He didn’t have any help from about the middle of the second period on.”

Bethel Park outshot Meadville, 12-1, in the final period and 33-15 for the game.

Ty Sheehan got Meadville off to a good start. The senior captain scored almost three minutes into the game to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead, but they gave that back near the end of the period.

Bethel Park’s leading scorer Daniel Kucerovy smacked a loose puck past Damasceno with 4:22 left in the first period to knot the score.

In the third period, Brown’s goal was the game-winner and Kucerovy added a power play goal with 5:35 left in the game.

Just before Kucerovy delivered the dagger, the Bulldogs had a chance to tie the game. Sheehan and Derek Richardson couldn’t hook up on a two-on-one with 5:40 left in the game.

Meadville lost its third straight, while Bethel Park won for the eighth straight time.

“Until we are a more difficult team to play against,” Plunkett said, “this is going to happen more often than not.”

Meadville sees Bethel again Friday in the first round of the Mt. Lebanon Tournament.

Notes: Meadville has already canceled today’s game against Jamestown because of the weather forecast. ... The Bulldogs were 0-for-1 on the power play without a shot. ... Bethel Park was 1-for-4 on the power play.

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