By Brian Deakyne
MIDDLETOWN – The Middletown North High School ice hockey program opened it 2013 season – and its new home – with a bang.
After an opening night win over Marlboro High School last Saturday, Middletown North hosted cross-town rival Middletown South in the first ever regular season game at the Middletown Ice World.
And in front of an estimated 1,500 fans, the Lions did not disappoint.
Middletown North fell behind 1-0 in the early stages, but it rebounded to score four straight goals en route to a 4-2 win over the Eagles to mark its third straight win over Middletown South.
“Just like (Middletown South) would have liked to win the first game here, I guess it will always go down, 10 years from now, that we won the first game here,” Middletown North coach Matt Clemente said. “But, it really was just the second regular season game of the year.”
Middletown South forward Gavin Gulash put home a rebound less than 2 minutes into the game to put the Eagles up, 1-0, but North came storming back.
Forward Tim Felice scored shorthanded with 9:51 left in the first period to tie the game at one, and later in the period, forward Tom Terranova took a pass from Vincent Tomasetti behind the net and ripped home the go-ahead goal with 2:30 left in the period.
Middletown North took full momentum when freshman forward John Dinnocenzo buried home a goal with 1 second left to put the Lions up, 3-1, going into the first intermission.
“That goal going into the second period to make it 3-1 was big and our goalie made the saves that he had to make,” Clemente said. “They didn’t quit. We thought for a while there when we were carrying play that they might not come back, but (Middletown South) coach Stan (Gutt) keeps them motivated and the rivalry itself keeps them motivated.”
Middletown North added to its lead in the second period, when Tomasetti scooped up a rebound in front of the net and shoveled it in, giving North a 4-1 lead.
“The kids enjoyed it; it was a great experience to come out here and get to have this,” Clemente said. “We had a bunch of alumni in the stands, they were complaining to me about having this rink a couple of years ago. It was an awesome experience in Middletown, (rink owner) George (Haviland) did a really nice job putting the game on and everything was under control. It was only the second regular season game, we’re 2-0. We came to win and we obviously want to beat South – they are our conference opponent – so we’re 2-0 in the conference right now and that’s all that really matters.”
With a three-goal lead, North played tentatively in the third period, and South came fighting back.
South forward Ryan D’Emilia finished off a rebound that jumped out to the left wing to draw South within two goals at 4-2 with just over 4 minutes remaining. The Eagles pushed the pace over the final 4 minutes, including hitting a post, but the Lions were able to seal the win.
Middletown North goalie Hunter Dillon stopped 15 shots and Middletown South goalie Owen Liskiewicz made 18 saves in the loss.
Middletown South went 0-4 on the power play on the night, and Middletown North went scoreless on both of its extra man advantages.
“We knew going into that game that they were well coached, but we weren’t going to shut them out,” Clemente said. “I think the best thing to happen to us was them scoring the first goal, it sort of warmed us up a little. After that, we carried play for 20 minutes and they really took it to us in the third period. We were lucky that they ran out of time because they were coming.”