By Pete Chiodo
The way the Meadville hockey team was howling with joy as the players left the ice at Tullio Arena, it was kind of hard to believe that it was just the third game of the season.
But that’s what happens when you get a win over Cathedral Prep.
The fiercely competitive Erie-Crawford rivalry wrote another exciting chapter on Wednesday night. And this time it was Meadville prevailing, 5-4 in overtime.
Earlier in the night, the Bulldogs let a 4-2 lead slip away in the third period. Prep’s Jacob Ordos scored off a face-off in Meadville’s end to make it 4-3. And then Joe Kelly notched a short-handed goal with 5:15 remaining in regulation to tie the game at 4.
Both teams had power play opportunities as time wound down, but neither could score the clincher.
And far from hanging their heads after letting the lead slip away, the Bulldogs looked energized in the overtime period, keeping the puck in Prep’s end the whole time.
Granted, the overtime period lasted all of 16 seconds before Meadville’s Cade Nickerson wrenched a shot past Cathedral Prep goalie Grant Kennedy to hand the Bulldogs (2-1-0) the victory. Josh Orr had the assist.
The rest of the game was equally as back-and-forth as the closing minutes.
Cathedral Prep spent a good deal of the first period in Meadville’s end. However, it was Meadville that struck first when John Gizzie, from behind the Ramblers’ net, found Orr right in Kennedy’s face. Gizzie slung the assist to him. Orr buried it. It was 1-0 Bulldogs.
However, Prep struck right back, scoring a pair of goals within 36 seconds of each other. First Brandon Gotkin notched an unassisted goal to tie the game. Then on the Ramblers’ next trip down the ice, Prep’s Grant Krasiewski scored the go-ahead with assists from Trevor Faulkner and Joe Kelly.
Prep, however, couldn’t keep up the offensive pressure, not with three penalties over the final 5:30 of the first period. In fact, during the final minute and a half of the frame, the Ramblers were hit with a pair of penalties 14 seconds apart. The Bulldogs had a man in the box at the time. Yet they still had a 4-on-3 for the final 1:08.
Prep got out of the period without letting Meadville score. However, 28 seconds into the second, Nickerson (who was whistled for roughing in the first) raced out of the box to give Meadville a brief 5-on-3 opportunity. He stationed himself in front of the net. Orr fed him the puck. And Nickerson deflected it past Kennedy to knot the score at 2.
With five minutes left in the second, Meadville grabbed the lead back. Steven Shafer issued a quality centering pass from out of the corner to Brock Biggs. Biggs sealed the deal, and the Bulldogs led 3-2.
Nickerson ended the game with two goals. Orr had a goal and two assists for the Bulldogs.
Kennedy ended the game with 22 saves on 27 shots on goal.
Meadville’s Austin Guanzon earned the win with 25 saves on 29 shots.