J.R. Avon went undrafted in 2021, likely because his Ontario Hockey League season was canceled because of Covid.
The Flyers signed the center to a three-year, entry-level contract in 2021 after his strong performance at their Developmental Camp that summer. His speed was notable and so was his knack for shooting the puck and scoring goals.
Avon was the hero Thursday night at the Memorial Cup for the Peterborough Petes. He scored an overtime goal at 10:54 as the Petes defeated the host Kamloops Blazers, 5-4, to advance to the semifinals. The Petes trailed, 4-1, in the second period.
The FIRST OFFICIAL Memorial Cup J.R. you kidding me pic.twitter.com/Xzsawd6iPl
— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) May 27, 2023
“It was kinda a long shift, I was a bit bagged,” Avon said of the winning goal, in a video on the OHL website. “They threw it to the net. I think Mayer [Samuel Mayer] poke-checked it. Saw it …. go back down.
“I thought I would join them. He [Owen Beck] made a great play, got it to me and I put it in the back of the net.
“It probably was the highlight goal of my career so far.”
Flyers draft pick Brian Zanetti had the game-tying goal for the Petes, who play the Seattle Thunderbirds tonight. The winner of tonight’s game will play the Quebec Remparts on Sunday for the Memorial Cup championship. Avon scored a goal in the Petes’ 4-2 win over Quebec on Tuesday to stay alive in the tournament. Quebec is coached by Patrick Roy.
“I blacked out [after the overtime goal],” Avon said. “I was trying to celebrate but I think Mayer jumped on my back too early, which kind of sucked in the moment, but it was unreal. I blacked out after that. I don’t even remember what happened.”
The victory was extra-special for Avon, a Peterborough native.
“It’s surreal,” Avon said. “I’m also a local kid so it adds up to everything. That means so much to me. It’s crazy to think that a Peterborough boy just scored the goal to send them to the semifinals.”
— Ontario Hockey League (@OHLHockey) June 2, 2023
The Flyers drafted the Swiss-born defenseman Zanetti in the fourth round. They certainly were familiar with Avon given their scouting of Zanetti.
Avon has nine goals and six assists in 23 playoff games this season.
Jon-Randall Avon, 19, is a 6-foot, 174-pounder in his third season with the Petes. He had 29 goals, 31 assists and was plus-21 in 59 games. In his three seasons with the Petes, he has played 179 games. He has 62 goals and 77 assists.
The Petes advanced to the Memorial Cup by winning the OHL championship.
“That was an unreal feeling,” Avon said of his winning goal. “I don’t think anything is going to top that for a while.”
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Game 1: Panthers at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. Saturday. TNT.