NORTH OLMSTED — Jacob Kramer knew what was coming.
Because he did, North Olmsted didn’t know he was coming until it was too late.
Kramer redirected a Michael Giannuzzi shot into the goal in overtime to give Amherst a 4-3 win in the Southwestern Conference tournament final Monday afternoon at North Olmsted Recreation Center.
Amherst came from behind to defend its title and pick up its third SWC tournament championship since 2000.
“That was our play,” Kramer said. “I come up and normally (Giannuzzi) goes over to Tyler (Waldecki) but when I saw him open I passed it and he will shoot it. I came in and saw him shoot it. I just tried to tip it and see if I could get a deflection on net. It went under (the goalie’s) pad and in.”
“We do that a lot in practice, moving the puck from me to Tyler and Tyler to me,” Giannuzzi said. “We try to pick up the forwards coming off the boards so they can deflect it.”
Amherst improved to 22-2, its only losses coming in its only other overtime games this season. The Eagles dropped to 6-9-2.
North Olmsted jumped on top first when Shawn Donovan scored just 68 seconds into the game, but the teams went to the first intermission tied at 1 when Jacob Fekete scored the first of his two goals with 4:22 on the clock.
Kramer had the only score of the second period at 11:39, but Amherst’s lead disappeared in the third period when the Eagles scored twice on goalie Brady Grove (16 saves) to put the pressure on the top-seeded Comets.
Amherst had numerous chances in the second to add to its lead, but North Olmsted’s Joe Warszawski came up with 18 of his 36 saves in the period.
The first of the Eagles’ scores came after the game’s only penalty when Riley Vertosnik scored a shorthanded goal at 9:40 after Grove had made a pair of dynamic saves.
North Olmsted went up 3-2 when Justin Christ won a face-off and sent the puck to Donovan, who scored his second goal with 5:40 left in regulation.
With the championship hanging in the balance, the Comets tied the game just over two minutes later when Nathan Harmych sent the puck from behind the end line to Fekete, who redirected it into the net.
“I don’t think we really change whether we’re up by two or down by one or two,” Amherst coach Steve Morris said. “That’s something that we’ve been working on for the last three or four weeks, to give a variation on our power play or when it’s 4-on-4.
“It’s really hard to win this conference let alone back-to-back. It means a lot to the program, to the school and to the team. There are some really talented players and good teams in the Southwestern Conference.”
Eagles coach Ben Palocko couldn’t feel too bad about his team’s performance even in a loss.
“When a game is that good and that close you just go in the locker room and think of ways to express how you feel about the team,” he said. “I’m extremely proud. Guys emptied the tank today on both sides. I’m disappointed but proud of them.”
Amherst 4, North Olmsted 3 (OT)
FIRST PERIOD: (NO) Shawn Donovan (Jake Hirz), 13:52, (A) Jacob Fekete (Jacob Kramer, Tyler Waldecki), 4:22
SECOND PERIOD: (A) Kramer (unassisted), 11:39
THIRD PERIOD: (NO) Riley Vertosnik (Travis Vitaz), SH, 9:40, (NO) Donovan (Justin Christ), 5:40, (A) Fekete (Nathan Harmych, Waldecki), 3:28. PENALTIES — (NO) Cameron Sukenik (2:00 tripping), 10:29
OVERTIME: (A) Kramer (Michael Giannuzzi), 4:12
North Olmsted 1 0 2 0 — 3
Amherst 1 1 1 1 — 4
Shots on goal: North Olmsted 22 (4-4-11-3), Amherst 40 (6-19-11-4). Saves: (NO) Joey Warszawski 36; (A) Brady Grove 19. Power-play opportunities: North Olmsted 0-0, Amherst 0-1