ELYRIA — While the ice at the North Park rink was covered with bears before the Midview-Solon hockey game Sunday afternoon, it was the Middies who actually came out of hibernation.
Midview overcame its tendency to start slowly by scoring the first four goals of the game in rolling to a 7-3 win in Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League Red South Division action.
“We’ve been struggling coming out strong this year,” said Nicholas Verlotti, who got the Middies rolling with a goal less than two minutes into the game and added a pair of assists.
“We changed our warm-up a little bit to help us start stronger, and getting that first goal was really important for us.”
As for the bears on the ice, they were there as a result of Midview’s first Teddy Bear Toss. Fans got free admission if they showed up with a teddy bear, then threw them on the ice trying to win prizes. The Elyria and Grafton police departments got to keep the 51 bears to give to children who might be scared in a police situation.
The score was 2-0 after one thanks to a goal from Cody Gochnour off assists from Devon Lichtler and Robby Rodgers with 4:26 left in the period.
The Middies wasted no time adding to their lead in the second period. Jonathan Rodgers won the face-off and got the puck to Heath Naso, who sent a shot past Solon goalie Michael Nagy. The score went to 4-0 at 8:33 of the second when Verlotti stole a pass at center ice and hit Jeff Mullins with a beautiful cross-ice pass.
“The last time we played them we gave them a 3-0 start and it’s way better the other way,” Middies coach Rick Verlotti said. “When you look at our division, you know the games are going to be tight and the division is going to be tight. That’s a big win for us.”
The win pushed the Middies (4-1-1, 2-1-1) from fourth place in the division into a first-place tie with Strongsville with five points.
Solon (6-7, 2-2) picked up a pair of scores in the second period but Rodgers kept Midview rolling with an unassisted goal that came seconds after he left the penalty box.
Any thoughts of a Comets comeback were dashed by defenseman Naso, who beat Nagy with a penalty shot after a Solon player was called for tripping on a breakaway with 9:18 left in the game.
“I was pretty nervous,” Naso said. “I don’t have any skills so I just go for the snipe. I just looked for an opening and tried to put the puck there. That was a much better start against them (Comets) and a good win.”
Naso finished off his first career hat trick with 4:39 left in the game off a Nicholas Verlotti assist.
“A lot of times those guys (defensemen) don’t get the accolades that they deserve,” Rick Verlotti said. “The way Heath plays, he busts his butt for a lot of minutes and may not have any points but he’s just as important to what everyone else is doing.”
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Midview 7, Solon 3
FIRST PERIOD: (M) Nicholas Verlotti (Jeffrey Mullins, Isaac Vance), 13:10, (M) Cody Gochnour (Devon Lichter, Robby Rodgers), 4:26. PENALTIES: (S) Ricky Roberts (2:00 holding).
SECOND PERIOD: (M) Heath Naso (Jonathan Rodgers), 14:04, (M) Mullins (Verlotti), 8:33, (S) Charles Gortz (Andrew Oliver, William Furlong), 7:57, (M) J. Rodgers (unassisted), 3:27, (S) Nicholas Wu (Roberts), 0:12. PENALTIES: (M) Bryan Weaver (2:00 hooking), 12:17, (M) J. Rodgers (2:00 cross-check), 5:37, (M) Mullins (2:00 holding), 2:02, (M) Weaver (2:00 holding), 0:40.
THIRD PERIOD: (M) Naso (Penalty Shot), 9:18, (S) Samuel Young (Wu), 8:50, (M) Naso (Verlotti), 4:39. PENALTIES: (S) James Cataano (2:00 tripping, 14:48, (M) Mullins (2:00 head contact), 10:52, (S) William Furlong (5:00 boarding), 1:31, (M) Verlotti (2:00 elbowing).
Solon 0 2 1 — 3
Midview 2 3 2 — 7
Shots on goal: Solon 28 (6-12-10), Midview 32 (12-9-11). Goalies: (S) Michael Nagy (32 shots, 25 saves), (M) Zach Seel (28 shots, 25 saves). Power-play opportunities: Solon 1-6, Midview 0-3.