In the final 15 minutes, however, the youthful Eagles did more clawing than scratching as a five-goal third led to an 8-4 victory, their first in a week.
Senior defenseman Chris Reitmann scored his first hat trick of the season to help pull Avon out of a two-game funk in which it was outscored 12-2.
“It’s very nice to be able to contribute to the team like that,” Reitmann said of his three-goal night. “It’s a great feeling, honestly. We all came together and were able to get collectively eight goals, so I know it wasn’t just me out there.”
Nick Koepp, Callahan Miller, Matt Folds and Gavin Gillard each scored a goal for the Eagles (8-11, 2-3 Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League White North) who have already eclipsed last season’s five-win total.
Nine different players recorded at least one assist, led by two apiece from Vincent Hieronymus and Varun Sripada. Sophomore goalie Ben Boka had 27 saves.
“The last couple games we’d been struggling to score goals, and I think tonight it was great to have an outburst of goals in the third,” said Avon coach Kyle Botos, a St. Edward grad who played collegiately for Division III Johnson & Wales.
Down 1-0 just 58 seconds into the game Saturday after Ryan Bonham scored for North Olmsted (7-8-1, 2-5 GCHSHL White North), Avon tied the game with Koepp’s goal three minutes later. Reitmann’s power-play goal put his team ahead 2-1.
After Bonham tied the game at 2-2 less than a minute into the second frame, Avon upped its aggression, skating hard and pushing the puck into North Olmsted’s zone with more frequency. Mike Perusek’s goal with 1:12 left gave Avon the lead for good.
“We just got back to the basics of shooting the puck (into the zone), and it worked tonight,” Botos said. “This group, we don’t have a true all-star. Our motto is to muck and grind, and we have to score dirty goals. We’re hard-working and we have a dump and chase kind of game, and we have to muck it up a little bit to win. Tonight we did our job, and it was nice to see.”
After Avon scored five goals in less than 10 minutes for an 8-2 lead, Bonham and Justin Christ each scored in the final two minutes. In addition to Bonham’s hat trick, Cam Sukenik had two assists and senior goalie James Kocon made 24 saves.
“For whatever reason we just didn’t seem to have the legs,” North Olmsted coach Ben Palocko said. “We were getting through it and we kept it close, but then a couple pucks got in on kind of broken plays. And I won’t say (Avon) totally outplayed us at the beginning of the third, but they got goals on some normal plays and we just got kind of disheartened. It got from 3-2 to 5-2 pretty quickly, and we couldn’t get out of it.”
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