Kent State club hockey player scores 100th career goal

Kent State forward Jon Buttitta, #14, skates the puck out of the zone against Adrian College on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. The Flashes lost, 5-1.

Morgan Dunlop

When John Buttitta first stepped onto the ice, he was 4 years old and realized he had no interest in hockey.

Now, 22 years later, he has 100 career goals for the Kent State club hockey team and over 200 total points.

“I was 4 or 5 when I started playing,” Buttitta said. “I was playing at Parma Heights, and I got on skates and didn’t know what I was doing. I did not enjoy it, so I quit for a year and got back into it when I was 6 years old and it grew on me.”

Before Buttitta came to Kent State to play as a walk-on, he played for a variety of different leagues across North America and Canada. He then decided to take a year off to see if he wanted to continue his career.

“I was done playing hockey,” Buttitta said. “I took a year off before I came to Kent, and no one from Kent approached me except three teammates of mine. Originally, I was supposed to go to Ohio University.”

Buttitta is the assistant captain of the team, but said his teammates have encouraged him along his journey to reach the milestone.

“If it wasn’t for the team, I wouldn’t be able to get to where I am,” Buttitta said. “You can’t get 220 points by yourself; there has to be 25 guys in it. Even if they’re not on your line, they still have to play their role. Everything falls into place for a reason.”

Senior forward Xavier Sudlow has been a teammate of Buttitta’s for three years now and has had a chance to see his evolution as a player.

“I love it,” Sudlow said. “Being his linemate for three years now, it’s pretty awesome to see him score that goal. He has meant a lot to this program.”

Sean Moore, who just reached his 100th career point, has been playing on the same line as Buttitta for the past two seasons.

“I thought it was a huge accomplishment for him,” Moore said. “The coaches were very excited when he got his 100th goal, and I was ecstatic for him because it is a major milestone. Coach said in the locker room that he is a generational player for Kent State, and I agree.”

Buttitta said some games are so memorable that they are in his memory forever.

“Coming back against Western Michigan was one that stands out to me,” Buttitta said. “We were down four goals, and we came back in the third period to win 5-4. We tied them and ended up winning it in overtime. That was pretty sweet.”

Sophomore forward Jason Smith holds Buttitta’s 100th goal in high praise.

“Buttitta’s 100th goal was something special,” Smith said. “Not many college hockey players achieve something like that.”

Coach Jim Underwood was happy with the timing of the goal because it gave his team the lead.

“It was the first goal of the game, about a minute in,” Underwood said. “What that goal did was really set the mood for the game. It got our guys going, and it was exciting. It was a great start to the game. It put Calvin (College) on their heels which helped us carry it out.”

Buttitta remembers what it was like to be a freshman and join the Flashes.

“When I first came in, I didn’t know what the league was,” Buttitta said. “I didn’t know how I was going to compare myself to these guys. I didn’t come in expecting to be the big dog. You have to earn that spot. I just wanted to make a statement like ‘I’m here for business.’ I’m a pretty fun guy, but when it comes to hockey, I take it seriously. I just wanted to make an impact.”

Buttitta knows scoring a goal in a college hockey game is not easy, and he said the milestone snuck up on him.

“Goals are hard to come by,” Buttitta said. “At the time, I wasn’t really thinking about it. I didn’t even know I was close to 100 yet, but it was a good feeling. Getting compliments Saturday night was cool. Everyone gave me love and was really happy for me. We have a young team this year, so not a lot of guys were here in the beginning, but they all congratulated me.”

Morgan Dunlop is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].