North Olmsted is rolling. The Eagles have a 9-1 record and are 3-0 in Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League standings. The power-packed offense has a lot to do with that, but so does the play from the other end of the ice.
Zech Laughbaum moved to North Olmsted from Montana this summer. An Akron native, Laughbaum lived in Ohio until he was 5 years old when his family moved to Wolf Point, a town of about 3,000 near the North Dakota border.
“My dad’s a chiropractor,” he said. “He wanted to retire there.”
Laughbaum did well on the ice in Wolf Point. He played on a Junior Gold League team and was invited to join Team North Dakota Class AAA. Being a North Dakota resident is not a requirement to be on that club.
“The hockey is better in North Dakota than in Montana,” Laughbaum said.
It was an illness in the family — heart bypass surgery for Laughbaum’s paternal grandfather — that brought him back to the area.
Laughbaum met a couple of North Olmsted hockey players at a clinic at Kent State over the summer, not knowing that eventually they would be his teammates. His first desire was to play for the Junior Barons, but both of that team’s goalies had returned from the previous season.
The family eventually bought in North Olmsted, and Laughbaum joined the Eagles. He replaced two goalies, Terry Legg and Dan Patterson, who had shared the position for the previous three seasons. North Olmsted was one of only two West Side teams that didn’t have a starting goalie returning from the 2006-07 season.
“I was excited to be back with family,” Laughbaum said. “We would come back to visit once in a while in the summer, but not often. It’s been great that my grandparents have been able to come to just about all my games.”
And Laughbaum and the North Olmsted defense have been tough. The Eagles have allowed only 16 regulation goals. Only University School (0.67) has a lower goals-against average in Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League (GCHSHL) games than North Olmsted’s (1.33).
Missing the bus
It takes a village to hold down Chad Murphy.
Well, it was more like a city, or a school district to be exact. North Olmsted would not allow school buses to roll through Sunday’s horrendous weather to get to Euclid for the Benedictine Christmas Tournament.
All things being equal, North Olmsted likely would have played Bishop Moeller for the tournament championship. Instead it was Worthington Kilbourne, the bunch the Eagles were supposed to have played, that got a shot at the title. Kilbourne fell to Moeller, 7-2.
The teams from far away — Cincinnati and Columbus — had the advantage of staying in nearby hotels for the weekend.
Murphy was on a roll in the tournament Saturday, scoring seven of North Olmsted’s 15 goals and assisting on two others as the Eagles upended backyard rivals Olmsted Falls and Avon Lake.
The other one
Buddy is the Gerus on Olmsted Falls who gets most of the attention from fans, opponents and media types. But the Bulldogs’ senior co-captain’s little brother stepped up his game at the Benedictine Tournament.
Eddie Gerus, a sophomore defenseman, scored three goals and had three assists in the Bulldogs’ three tournament games. That matched the point total for Buddy (four goals, two assists) and Falls’ other big-time scorer, Dave Turner (three goals, three assists), for the weekend.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or email@example.com with news for this notebook and nominations for players
of the week.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Kevin Figueira, Bay
LAST WEEK: Registered 24 saves on 26 shots in a 2-1 loss to Rocky River on Friday and had 23 saves on 24 shots Saturday in a 2-1 victory over Chagrin Falls.
PARENTS: Brent and Coleen
OTHER SPORT: Soccer
OTHER INTERESTS: Enjoys movies, especially comedies and horror films. Also enjoys playing video games (Madden ’07, NHL Hockey).
FAVORITE NHL PLAYER: Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary goalie
FUTURE PLANS: Would eventually like to go to college and possibly play junior league hockey.