Meadville Bulldog Invitational: My Site News: LaSalle impressive in 6-4 victory of Meadville in House of Chills

Friday, February 8
LaSalle impressive in 6-4 victory of Meadville in House of Chills
LaSalle - 6
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Saturday, January 13
LaSalle impressive in 6-4 victory of Meadville in House of Chills
Meadville - 4

    The Meadville Hockey Program started the Bulldog Invitational in 1996 to bring the best teams from Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Pennsylvania, Ohio and surrounding states to compete for three days at the ‘House of Chills’. The Bulldogs won their own tournament only once in 2003, which just happens to be the last time that they won the Pennsylvania Class AAA title. The Bulldogs are off to 9-3-0 start in League play and have shown periods of strength and weakness in that stretch, which historically includes play against non-league opponents, that Jamie Plunkett uses to hone the Dawgs run at State supremacy. In a non-league game earlier this season in mid-November in the National Invitational Scholastic Showcase in Jamestown NY, Meadville played arguably one of its best games of the season against Illinois power New Trier Green, but fell 4-3 giving up two shorthanded tallies in the third period. Coach Plunkett will tell you that these are the types of games that build playoff runs in March when you win them and toil in inconsistency in you don’t. The Bulldogs will have to start knocking off some contenders for Pennsylvania’s ultimate prize in the regular season or in non-league contests if it hopes to compete for the Penguins Cup and ultimately the Pennsylvania High School Hockey Championship at year’s end.   

    LaSalle Head Coach Wally Muehbronner loves coming to Meadville to compete against excellent competition and has done so now for 8 years. The Explorers have expanded their horizons traveling to the Northeast to play in the Mount St Charles Invitational, which they did in late December to play against hockey powers from Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire among others and in addition compete against New Jersey Prep powers to hone their run at the Flyers Cup. Losses against Delbartan NJ, the Hill School and Wyoming Seminary were all close, but the Explorers have been pretty dominant in League play with a perfect record thus far and good enough to rank them # 1 in the recent Pa Hockey Elite 8 Flyers Cup poll and # 1 in the State of Pennsylvania in the same Elite 8 statewide poll. LaSalle is ranked ahead of Bethel Park, who beat the Dawgs in December at the ‘House of Chills’ 6-3.   

         LaSalle showed no sign of bus legs in the opening period as they skated Meadville into the ground from the opening bell. The benefits started just 23 seconds into the contest as Ross Denczi crashed the net and poked home an Adam Berkle rebound to give the Explorers a 2-0 lead. LaSalle continued good transition play out of their zone and into Meadville’s and scored a beautiful goal at 9:54 as Tom Minton converted a great cross-ice pass from linemate Mark Schnupp to make it two zip. Minton would scored again at
4:57 of the 1st period on a weird angle shot from below the goal line which bounced off the back of Mike Licinski to make it 3-0. A critical penalty kill for Meadville in final two minutes of opening period negated LaSalle’s power play with a penalty against the Explorers with 18 seconds remaining, LaSalle dominated play in the opening period and the shots 12-4.

    After the ice cut and some words of encouragement from coach Plunkett we were on to the second period and the Bulldogs finally got on the board as Morgan Nickerson found Alex Drelick on a cross ice feed, who slipped a shot past Dan Pyne to get Meadville back in the hockey game at 12:32 at 3-1. Meadville was shorthanded in the 2nd period, but capitalized on an odd man break as Pat Leone fired a shot that Pyne with a little under 11 minutes to go in the middle period bringing the intimate but always boisterous House of Chills crowd to a thunderous roar making this a 3-2 contest. More penalty killing for Meadville with 9:06 to play in the 2nd, but the Dawgs adjustments lured LaSalle into the Meadville half ice game,which the home team excels at and the penalty was successfully killed. Another penalty with 3:39 remaining in the second period put LaSalle on the power play again. At some point the Explorers would need to capitalize on the Bulldog penalties and they did with 3:01 to go as Tom Minton’s shot trickled past Mike Licinski to give LaSalle a 4-2 and complete the hat trick for # 9 of LaSalle.   

       With 14:33 to play in regulation, LaSalle took another penalty and Meadville had a 5 on 3 advantage for almost a minute, but the Explorers aggressive penalty kill prevailed. Meadville was able to get back in the game as Pat Leone banged home a rebound of an Alex Drelick backhand with 11:20 to play to cut the lead to 4-3, but took a penalty in the process putting LaSalle on the power play. With 9:47 to go, the Explorer’s made them pay as T.J. Laessig’s shot shot from the left point found its way through traffic and behind Licinski to make it a 5-3 count. The Explorers went on the power play with 5:46 to go in regulation with a five minute major assessed to the Bulldogs and they scored with 5:07 to go on a rebound goal by #12 Eric McLoughlin to extend the lead to 6-3.      
Meadville scored the games final goal as Aaron Nye scored on a slapshot from the left point with 2:15 to go, but Meadville ran out of clock as LaSalle earned a 6-4 victory at the House of Chills.