By Pete Chiodo
The Meadville Tribune
October 23, 2012 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
Mt. Lebanon lost some players last season. Meadville lost some players last season. But it was clear which team is further along with the patch-up process, as the Bulldogs skated past the Blue Devils 3-1 in a non-conference ice hockey clash Monday night at the George S. DeArment Ice Arena.
“(Mt. Lebanon) had a nice club last year,” said Bulldogs head coach Jamie Plunkett. “They had a couple real nice players. And they beat us 5-1 last year ... But we knew in the offseason that they were going to be bringing in a lot of new faces.
“It’s what you deal with in high school sports. It’s very cyclical. You have one group that graduates, and the next one moves in. We’re going through a little bit of that — some new faces and guys in new roles. As a coach, it’s fun. You can’t worry so much about wins and losses. I think you have to look at, are we getting better?”
The win was certainly an improvement from Meadville’s 7-0 loss to Altoona on Saturday.
“We were beaten in every facet of the game by a better team, a harder working team,” said Plunkett. “But (on Monday) we came out and we worked harder. I liked the things we did. We controlled the puck. We made some good plays.”
Meadville (5-3 overall) wasted little time getting out in front of the Blue Devils last night. Just 2:45 into the first period, Cade Nickerson made it 1-0 with an assist credited to John Gizzie.
“Derek Richardson passed it up to John Gizzie,” said Nickerson. “And he got into a confrontation with some of the (Mt. Lebanon) players. The puck kind of squirted out to me right at the blue line. I just skated in and went top-right corner.”
That’s the way the score would remain for the rest of the first period and most of the second. That certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort on Meadville’s side. The Bulldogs put 16 shots on goal in the first, and added 15 more in the second.
It’s just that Lebo’s goalie, Clay Wyda, was having a day.
“Their goaltender played well,” said Plunkett. “He made a lot of big plays on a lot of point-blank shots.”
However, the Bulldogs finally broke through on a power play with 2:16 remaining in the second. This time it was Rob Stainbrook scoring on an assist from Josh Orr.
“We were in their zone on a power play,” said Stainbrook. “I was on one of the hash marks and I did a give-and-go with (Orr). I gave it to him behind the goal line. I skated in front of the net. He got it back to me and I shot it in.”
The ’Dogs made it 3-0 midway through the third period. Richardson snagged the puck as Lebo was trying to clear it out of its zone. He put it on net from about 25 feet out, and it crept through the five hole on Wyda.
Lebo finally struck with 4:50 to go on the third. Steve Siamac punched it in getting assists from Thomas Kang and Ronnie Litman.
Wyda ended up making 38 saves on 41 shots.
Meadville’s Austin Guanzon had 14 stops on 15 shots on goal.
The Meadville program won’t return to the ice until Sunday at 10:15 a.m. when the Crawford County Flames host Westmoreland in a Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League showdown.
“I think right now we’re a team that needs more practices than games,” said Plunkett. “And we only have a couple of games in the next couple weeks. So we’ll have an opportunity to work on some of the things that are shortcomings.”