By Randy Russon
Former NAHL Top Prospects puckstopper Peter Megariotis has parlayed a prosperous Port Huron and NAHL performance into a chance to play on the Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association stage.
The 1991 birth year goalie, who helped backstop Port Huron Fighting Falcons to the 2011-12 North American Hockey League North Division title and a berth at the Robertson Cup national championship tournament, is off to prestigious Ohio State University with commitment in hand and a 2012-13 roster spot with the Buckeyes.
Sharing goaltending duties with Max Milosek, Megariotis played a major role in Port Huron's rise from the worst team in the NAHL in 2010-11 to first place in the North Division in 2011-12 and the Robertson Cup berth.
The 6-foot-2, 205 pound Megariotis fashioned a record of 19-8-1 and flashed a 2.52 goals against average and .905 save percentage in helping to pilot Port Huron to the 2011-12 North Division pennant.
He also played on the North Division team at the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament back in February, where he posted some great numbers in front of all the scouts. He posted a 2.06 goals against average and a 94.2% save percentage, as he appeared in at least a part of all three of the North's games.
Since the 2011-12 season ended, new Port Huron coach-general manager Steve Shannon, along with Fighting Falcons owner Maribeth Hayes, worked tirelessly on behalf of Megariotis to get the team's graduating goalie a Division 1 opportunity.
"I'm just so excited right now, I can hardly believe I'm off to play D1 at a school like Ohio State," said an effervescent Megariotis in a telephone interview from his home in Anaheim Hills, Calfornia. "It's the middle of July and I didn't know if I was going to get an opportunity like this. Steve and Maribeth did a lot of work on my behalf and I can't thank them enough for this."
Megariotis was prepared to head off to Detroit's Adrian College, a high-level, private school that competes at the Division 3, NCAA level until learning just days ago that Ohio State was interested in him.
Playing time in the Ohio State net will be up for grabs this coming season with the graduation of senior goalie Cal Heeter. Heeter, who played in more than 90 games over four years at Ohio State after backstopping the NAHL's St. Louis Bandits to the 2007-08 Robertson Cup championship, recently signed a two-year contract with the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers.
"I can't wait to get to Ohio State and continue my hockey career at such a great institution," Megariotis continued. "I just want a chance to compete and develop. This is like a dream come true."
The 2012-13 season will be the final one in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association for Ohio State, which will move to the Big Ten Conference effective the 2013-14 campaign.
Hayes, the Fighting Falcons owner who brought the NAHL to Port Huron in 2010, was as excited as Megariotis in discussing the goalie's move up to the Division 1 ranks at Ohio State.
"Pete's such a great kid," said Hayes. "He was a fan favourite in Port Huron just as he was when he played in Fresno."
Megariotis was traded from the Fresno Monsters to the then-lowly Fighting Falcons midway through the 2010-11 season and quickly became the starting goalie for then-Port Huron coach-GM Bill Warren.
Now, with his rags-to-riches Port Huron experience in the books, Megariotis turns his attention to tending twine and stopping pucks at Ohio State.
"What a ride this has been," enthused Megariotis. "From last place to first place in Port Huron to a chance to play at Ohio State. I just want to thank the Fighting Falcons organization for helping making all of this possible."