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District Hockey: Amherst's season ends in OT after blown lead in 3rd period

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    Amherst's Jacob Fekete (24) lines up a shot as Olmsted Falls' Ethan Ilko and Alex Kerkay defend Tuesday night.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

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    Amherst Steele High School's Jacob Fekete (24) celebrates a goal scored by teammate Jacob Kramer (25) on Tuesday night, February 19 against Olmsted Falls.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

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    Amherst Steele High School's Tyler Waldecki (33) blocks Olmsted Falls High School's Jacob Kerkay (16) from regaining control of the puck on Tuesday night.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

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    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE Amherst Steele High School's Jacob Kramer (25) breaks away from Olmsted Falls High School's Jacob Kerkay (16) and Mike Kirth-Gruszczynski (22) on Tuesday night.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

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    Amherst Steele High School's Jacob Fekete (24) takes the puck towards the goal as Olmsted Falls High School's Jackson McMahan (13) on Tuesday night.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

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BROOKLYN — This one will hurt for a while.

Amherst carried a four-goal lead into the third period against Olmsted Falls, which had lost six straight to its Southwestern Conference rival. Minutes later the Comets left the ice stunned after losing 6-5 in overtime in the district tournament at the Brooklyn Recreation Center on Tuesday night.

The Bulldogs (20-11-1) will play St. Ignatius on Saturday after the top-seeded Wildcats beat Midview 11-1.

The Comets finished the year 32-3, setting a school record for wins.

Coach Steve Morris was even-keeled as usual.

“Their shots went in and ours didn’t. Sometimes it’s that simple,” he said. “When you play a team that many times, that’s the kind of thing that can happen. It’s a learning experience for the younger kids.”

The comeback certainly qualified as a shocker.

“We didn’t get down on each other and as soon as I touched the ice in the third period I knew we could come back and win,” said Olmsted Falls’ Mike Kirth-Gruszczynski, who knocked home the winner with 3:48 left in the extra session. “Colin (Wilson) took the puck deep to the boards and made a pass to Matt (Heine), who made a great centering pass. I was just in the right place at the right time.”

The loss ends an amazing run for Amherst, which entered with a 21-game winning streak, including three over the Bulldogs.

Jacob Kramer scored three times in the first two periods for a school-record 64 goals. Jacob Fekete added a goal, and Kramer’s little brother Joey provided a seemingly commanding 5-1 lead going to the second intermission.

Noah Voelker and Jacob Kerkay started the Falls comeback at 14:24 and 7:17 of the third period. Dom Conte finished off the four-goal period, scoring at 5:41 and 2:43 to send the game into overtime.

“I knew the odds weren’t in our favor, but I thought we could come back,” Bulldogs coach Robert Walczak said. “We’ve beaten three teams now that we probably shouldn’t have beat (Benedictine, Strongsville, Amherst).

“This is really amazing. It’s been two full years now that they (Comets) have been a thorn in our side. I knew if we got a goal or two quick we would have a chance if we could back them against the wall.”

Midview, the 11th seed, didn’t have the same suspense as it fell 11-1 to St. Ignatius, the top-ranked team in the state. The Middies finished the year 13-9.

Midview is losing three seniors in Bryan Weaver, Jonathan Rodgers and Nicholas Verlotti who have done much in helping the Middies to 59 wins in four years, including two seasons in the rugged Red Division of the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League.

“It seems just like yesterday that he just started, and it goes by in the blink of an eye,” coach Rick Verlotti said of watching his son, Nicholas. “It’s definitely a bittersweet moment for me.

“I started coaching Johnny (Rodgers) when he was 5 or 6, (Bryan) Weaver when he was 7 or 8 and Nick since he’s been 4. So it’s been a long time and it’s sad that it’s over.”

Verlotti got to be a happy dad at the start of the third period, when Nicholas scored on assists by Jonathan and Robby Rodgers just 15 seconds into the final period of the season.

That gave Nicholas Verlotti two career goals against St. Ignatius (23-9-1), as he also scored in his last game as a freshman. That was the first time Midview scored against the Wildcats as a program.

“This has been fantastic playing hockey with all my buddies for the past four years,” Nicholas Verlotti said. “Scoring as a freshman and able to put one in my last game ever was awesome.

“I wouldn’t choose anyone else to coach me. I’ve been coached by my dad since I was 4 years old. It’s been an awesome experience to be able to share this with my dad all these years.”

Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or jbrady_ct@yahoo.com.

St. Ignatius 11, Midview 1

FIRST PERIOD: (SI) Greg Langermeire (David Strick, Pat Eppich), 6:49, (SI) Alex Bilardo (Joey Trobenter), 0:40, (SI) Langermeier (Alex Bilardo), 0:19. Penalties: (M) Robby Rodgers (2:00 holding), 11:44.

SECOND PERIOD: (SI) Danny Cook (Rory Zawadski, Charlie Ellis), 12:16, (SI) Eppich (Clay Gazdak), 12:10, (SI) Connor McGowan (Eric Lile, Charlie Erbs), 9:25, (SI) Lile (McGowan, Michael Boehm), 4:44, (SI) Erbs (David Strrick, Ellis), 1:50. Penalties: None.

THIRD PERIOD: (M) Nicholas Verlotti (R. Rodgers, Jonathan Rodgers), 14:45, (SI) Langermeier (unassisted), 5:28, (SI) McGowan (Gazdak), 3:05, (SI) Gazdak (Cook, Zawadski), 1:06. Penalties: None.

St. Ignatius 3 5 3 — 11

Midview 0 0 1 — 1

Shots on goal: Midview 10 (3-2-5), St. Ignatius 58 (21-23-14). Goalies: Midview — Braden Rapp (58 shots, 47 saves), St. Ignatius — Benny Savarino (5 shots, 5 saves), Zak Kovatch (5 shots, 4 saves). Power-play opportunities: Midview 0-0, St. Ignatius 0-1.

Olmsted Falls 6, Amherst 5 (OT)

FIRST PERIOD: (A) Jacob Fekete (Michael Giannuzzi, Tyler Waldecki), 8:24, (A) Jacob Kramer (unassisted), 1:58, (OF) Jacob Kerkay (Max Kirth-Gruszczynski, Mike Kirth-Gruszczynski), 0:38. Penalties: Noah Voelker (2:00 tripping), 12:14, (OF) Kerkay (2:00 elbowing), 7:05, (A) Waldecki (2:00 holding), 1:18, (OF) Dom Conte (2:00 tripping), 0:46.

SECOND PERIOD: (A) Kramer (Fekete, Waldecki), 6:47, (A) Kramer (Fekete, Michael Giannuzzi), PP, 6:09, (A) Joey Kramer (Waldecki), PP, 2:35. Penalties: (OF) Mike Kirth-Gruszczynski (2:00 slashing), 9:11, (A) Giannuzzi (2:00 interference), 8:44, (OF) Max Kirth-Gruszczynski (2:00 tripping), 7:26, (OF) Matt Heine (2:00 interference), 3:14, (OF) Max Kirth-Gruszczynski (2:00 holding), 1:47, (OF) Kerkay (2:00 unsportsmanlike), 1:05, (A) Nathan Harmych (2:00 unsportsmanlike), 1:05.

THIRD PERIOD: (OF) Voelker (Max Kirth-Gruszczynski, Conte), 14:24, (OF) Kerkay (Heine, Mike Kirth-Gruszczynski), 7:17, (OF) Conte (Max Kirth-Gruszczynski), 5:41, (OF) Conte (Max Kirth-Gruszczynski, Kerkay), 2:43. Penalties: (A) Waldecki (2:00 roughing), 6:53, (OF) Kerkay (2:00 roughing), 6:05, (OF) Conte (penalty-shot tripping), 6:05, (OF) Kerkay (2:00 delay of game), 0:26.

OVERTIME: (OF) Mike Kirth-Gruszczynski (Heine), 3:48. Penalties: (OF) Colin Wilson (2:00 tripping), 6:02.

Amherst 2 3 0 0 — 5

Olmsted Falls 1 0 4 1 — 6

Shots on goal: Amherst 38 (12-16-5-5), Olmsted Falls 34 (8-8-15-3). Goalies: Amherst — Brady Grove (34 shots, 28 saves), Olmsted Falls — Nathan Chandler (38 shots, 33 saves). Power-play opportunities: Amherst 2-11, Olmsted Falls 0-3.

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