Without practice, Lions win five straight on the ice

first_imgMiddletown High School North’s ice hockey team is playing its best hockey of the season amidst a fivegame win streak, even though it hasn’t had a practice for two weeks.“With the weather and the snowouts, we played seven games in 15 days and couldn’t get ice time for practices. It’s been really tough for that,” said coach Matt Clemente, who said the team last practiced on Jan. 20, but will look to take the ice for practice this week.It didn’t show on Feb. 7, when the Lions convincingly won the Mayor’s Cup for the second straight year, 8-1, over Middletown High School South to improve to 11-7.Goalkeeper Hunter Dillon has allowed three goals in the 5-0 stretch, with support from a solid corps of defensemen that includes returning seniors Jack Meyer, the team captain, and Nick Kirch, as well as senior Glen Davis, junior Eric Nesbihal and sophomore Ryan Davidson. Clemente said the success of the team as of late, which includes finishing in a tie for second with Freehold Township High School in the Shore Conference A North Division behind Christian Brothers Academy with an 8-4 division record for the second year in a row, falls on the defense and Dillon’s outstanding play lately.“Early in the season, it was tough because [the coaches] were trying to figure out who the goalie would be,” said Dillon, who is backed up by fellow senior Jack Heuer. “I’m glad for the support I get from Jack. We’ve got good guys on this team. Their high level and hard work made me want to improve my own level.”He said he was also inspired by the crowd of about 1,000 that came to both games against Middletown South, including a 4-2 victory on Dec. 3.“I can’t say enough about what Hunter has done in these past five games,” Clemente said. “He hasn’t been getting too many shots in games, but when he has, he’s come through.”Dillon said he is looking forward to getting back on the ice for practice this week.“I’ve gone on one end of the rink for goalie practice in the past and couldn’t even get ice time for that,” Dillon said. “It’s a good time for us to work on individual stuff.” Ironically, the team has a light schedule over the next week or so, which means they’ll get some practice time and play only two games in that stretch — a game on Feb. 10 against Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School and on Feb. 18 against Brick Memorial High School. It comes at a good time, as Vin Tomasetti is out for two weeks with a concussion that he suffered in the last game against Middletown South. “We have a group of guys ready to step up, guys like Zack Gazette,” Clemente said. Gazette scored on a penalty shot — the first time a Middletown North player scored that way this season — for a 2-0 lead that grew to a 4-1 A North victory over Freehold Township on Feb. 6. Tom Terranova, who has been a reliable scorer on the first shift, had a goal and an assist that day, while linemate Khristian Acosta also scored. Other players have also stepped up, and Dillon said they are confident enough that they can fill that void for Tomasetti. In that five-game streak, which included a 2-1 victory over Howell High School and a 6-2 triumph over Toms River High School East, Terranova and Acosta each scored twice. It was followed by a 3-0 victory over Wall High School, as Scott Huber struck for two goals and Terranova had a goal and an assist. In a game much closer than the score indicated, Middletown North scored very early in the game and had to hold that slender lead until breaking away in the final three minutes.“We’re playing really good hockey now against some of the best teams in the state,” Dillon said. “We’re ready to go into the playoffs.”Tomasetti is expected back when the Lions return to the Shore Conference and NJSIAA tournaments, where they competed last year in a 14-10 season. They have already learned the past two weeks how to handle compressed schedules and highpressure situations that both come into play when it’s tournament time.“We need to show a little bit of discipline,” Clemente said. “The last thing we need is a parade of guys going to the penalty box. One power play situation for [an opposing] team is enough to turn a game around. We need to keep the right frame of mind.” By WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *