Junior Jon Miranda was a big reason why the Middletown North High School ice hockey team continued to stay red hot.
Miranda recorded his first career hat trick to lead the Lions to a 4-1 victory over the Freehold Borough/Raritan/Colts Neck co-op team at the Howell Ice Arena on Dec. 13.
Middletown North has scored 18 goals in its last four games, 12 of which have come in the last two games after defeating Jackson Memorial, 8-1, on Dec. 12.
“Twelve goals in two games is nice to do,” said Middletown North coach Don Wood. “It takes a little pressure off us from trying to shut everybody else down for three periods straight on defense. We tell our guys to get pucks to the net and get bodies the net to get rebound shots. We had almost 30 shots on net in the game and that’s a number of shots we want to be at in every game.”
The victory lifted Middletown North to a 3-1-1 record as of Dec. 13.
For the Freehold Boro/Raritan/Colts Neck co-op squad, the loss marked its second straight defeat after starting the season 2-1.
“We just have to continue to grow and develop as the season goes on,” said Freehold Borough/Raritan/Colts Neck coach Brian Simpson. “We have a couple guys out right now with injuries. We have a lot of younger guys playing. We should have everybody back healthy after the holiday break and be ready to make a run in the second half of the season.”
A scoreless game with under five minutes to play in the first period, Miranda struck with first goal of the night to put the Lions up 1-0.
The junior found the net again just over two minutes later that gave Middletown North a two-goal lead.
Getting a pass from teammate Jesse Dickinson right in front of the crease, Miranda literally flipped a no-look shot that ended up sailing over the stick of the co-op team’s goalie Anthony Guglieri and into the net to put the Lions up 2-0 going into the second period.
Miranda capped his special night with 2:43 to play in the second period after teammate Zach Brady knocked home his second goal of the season just over four minutes into the period that make it a three-goal lead for Middletown North.
Again, receiving a perfect pass from Dickinson rolling around the net, Miranda struck a slap shot right in back off the net for his first career hat trick and to give the Lions a 4-0 lead heading into the third period.
“It felt really good,” Miranda said. “One of my good friends Jesse (Dickinson) gave it to me. Feels pretty good to start the season off like we’ve had.”
Miranda has now scored four goals so far this season.
Senior Joe Barone scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season for the only Freehold Borough/Raritan/Colts Neck score of the contest, going coast to coast to get the co-op team on the board with 1:15 left to play.
Guglieri had a game-high 23 saves in net for the co-op team.
“We battled back and the kids never gave up,” Simpson said. “They battled all the way through and won the third period by getting a goal and outshooting them in the period.”
Senior goalie Matt Corella had 18 saves in net for the Lions.
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