Meadville’s played a lot of hockey over the past week, ending with the Walsh Jesuit tournament over Thanksgiving weekend. The Bulldogs returned home on Monday night, but suffered from some tired legs in their matchup with Hampton.
On Monday night at the House of Chills, Hampton beat Meadville 4-1 in a PIHL Class AA hockey game.
“You always worry about it being a trap game. The previous three times (out of the tournament) we’ve won, but tonight I could just tell from the very beginning there was just no emotion, no energy,” said Meadville head coach Jamie Plunkett.
Meadville falls to 2-5-1 in PIHL play, while Hampton moves up to 2-7 in the league.
The Bulldogs didn’t get a quality scoring chance until over six minutes into the first period. Andrew Derlink dished the puck over to Michael Mahoney, whose shot was tipped just wide by Hampton goaltender Jake McGee.
Later in the period, a Hampton 2-on-1 opportunity led to a Bulldogs penalty. However, the Talbots squandered the chance. Both teams remained scoreless through the first.
Early in the second, Hampton had another chance on an odd-man rush, but Jordan McCurdy, once again, made the stop, this time sliding across the crease.
Then with 11:24 on the clock, Meadville cashed in. Cohl Weber rushed wide with the puck down the right boards. He slid the puck across the slot over to Matthew English, who backhanded the puck home for the opening score.
“I saw a little bit of a burst of energy to start the second period. We were moving our feet,” said Plunkett. “Then Cohl Weber makes that pass to Matt English, and I’m like OK.”
The rest of the way, there wasn’t much to celebrate for the Bulldogs.
Two minutes later, Ethan Varley knotted it up by stealing the puck in the neutral zone and ripping a wrist shot while crossing the blue line.
Then with 2:54 to play in the second period, Varley scored his second of the game. This time he buried a loose puck in front of the net.
With 19 seconds left in the period, Hampton found the goal again. Off a pass from Joey Penkowski, Mitch Hurst drove wide on goal and tacked onto the lead.
“We’re not a good enough team that we can go out there and just get by on our skill. We’re a group that has to work hard,” said Plunkett. “We got to get our veteran players leading by example. When that doesn’t happen, what you saw happen tonight happens.”
With 5:42 left in the third period, Hampton closed it out. Luke Reiser poked the puck through McCurdy to take the 4-1 advantage.
McCurdy made 49 saves in the losing effort for the Bulldogs.
“I feel bad for Jordan McCurdy. He was the only guy that really showed up tonight,” said Plunkett.
The Bulldogs pulled McCurdy for the final three minutes of the game with the three-goal deficit. With the extra man, Meadville had a bunch of shots, but still couldn’t find a way through McGee, who tallied 35 saves in the win for Hampton.
“It’s disappointing. There’s still a lot of hockey left to play, but we need every point we can get,” said Plunkett. “And we squandered an opportunity to help ourselves tonight and I guess we’ll just see what happens next week.”
Jordan Hansgen can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.