Philadelphia Flyers prospect Jon-Randall Avon achieved the dream of every junior hockey kid this spring: winning the J. Ross Robertson Cup of the Ontario Hockey League with his hometown team.
Avon was born in Peterborough, Ontario and grew up a Petes fan. Winning a championship with his favorite team therefore meant everything to him.
« There are honestly no words to describe the feeling, » Avon said. “I really haven’t won anything in my whole life. It was special to do this with a very close friend, Chase Stillman. We grew up together; it was an unreal feeling to hoist this trophy in front of my friends and family.
It was a milestone ticked off his list. But on Thursday, with Peterbourgh’s season on the line at the Memorial Cup, he scored the game-winning goal against the Kamloops Blazers to advance to Friday’s semifinal against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
« I passed out, I was trying to celebrate, and Sam Mayer jumped on me, and I can’t even remember what happened, » he said, still in disbelief, he scored the winner of overtime. « It’s a surreal feeling to be a local kid, and it means so much to me. It’s crazy to think that a boy from Peterborough scored the goal to send us into the Memorial Cup semi-finals.
It was an incredible moment, bringing the Petes to life in the biggest moment of his career. Avon, a 19-year-old who the Flyers signed as an undrafted prospect in 2021, was far from a safe bet to become an impact player after a weak rookie season and a lost second campaign. But since then, Avon has been absolutely dynamite. And now he’s scoring goals when the Petes need them most.
Steve Larmer, the 1994 Stanley Cup champion, was a big influence on Avon’s career. The defensive forward hails from Peterborough and happens to be Avon’s stepfather. Avon credits Larmer with being one of the main reasons Avon was able to handle difficult situations so effectively.
« It’s really nice to come home and have that experience in the NHL and be able to ask him questions, » Avon said. “He is a great listener and always gives me feedback; even when I’m depressed and don’t think I’m playing the best, he’s there. It’s great to have him in my corner.
The 19-year-old scored 29 goals and 60 points last season for the Petes, down slightly from his 68-point campaign a year ago. But for Avon, it’s more about scoring.
« I really wasn’t too focused on finding the score sheet this year, » Avon said, with a smile. « When the Flyers signed me, and they just wanted me to work on the little things that can take me to the pro level. I just tried to focus on the intangibles, and the points came with that, so that was fine.
If you’ve ever watched Avon on the ice, you’ll be blown away by his speed. It’s like it hits Mach-9 and flies over ice like an X-43 Jet. Arguably he could be the fastest skater in the entire Canadian Hockey League. It will burn you and make you pay if you let it reach maximum speed.
» I do not know where it comes from ; I guess I was always a speedster growing up, so it’s a nice little tool to have in my back pocket,” Avon said.
His favorite player? Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor. People say we play a lot the same with our speed, and I try to model my game on that.
Avon will now look to help the Petes win the semifinals and advance to the championship game on Sunday. With the way he plays, you can’t count Peterborough by any means. Flyers fans are watching Avon closely and most have been impressed.
But could you imagine him scoring another big goal to close things out? Avon hopes it’s possible, and just like his dream of representing his home team all those years ago, he wants to make it happen.