WALL — He was confident heading into his senior season, but even Sean Mylod couldn’t predict a start quite like this.
A defenseman by trade, and the position in which he skated his first three years at Howell, Mylod and coach Bill Daley decided to experiment in the pre-season, moving his standout blue liner up front…and the venture has certainly paid off.
Mylod closed out Week 1 of the Shore Conference hockey season as the league leader in point-production and goal scoring, a string of success that left Mylod taken aback…and landed him Sports Food Technology Player of the Week honors.
“No, there’s no way I thought it would go this well, or could have imagined doing anything like this,” said Mylod, who after three games had compiled 19 points and 13 goals.
“I was just trying to play in the flow of the offense, get pucks to the, put up some points and most importantly help the team win some games. That’s always my focus, is trying to help us get win.”
Mylod certainly did that, as he led his Rebels club to four consecutive victories in the opening week, including triumphs over Toms River South-East, Old Bridge and Freehold Boro and Robbinsville.
In comparison, it took the Rebels until Dec. 29 of last season to register their first four victories.
“I saw it as a possibility that we could open the year pretty strong, if everything went well and our new guys played to their full ability right from the start. But three straight wins, and to be rolling in all three zones like we have been, that was a little unexpected.”
Mylod logged five goals all of last season while skating in the defensive zone, but he surpassed that mark on opening night when he scored six times and assisted on another in a non-divisional victory over Toms River South-East (Nov. 27).
The seniors’ fast start continued two nights later at non-conference foe Old Bridge, where he tickled the twine five more times as part of a six-point outing (Nov. 29).
His impressive Week 1 came to a close with another tally and a four-point performance against Freehold Boro, and a pivotal 2-0 non-conference decision over Robbinsville, in which Mylod opened the scoring in the first period and picked up the primary assist on a third period tally by Kyle Canal that put the contest out of reach.
“He’s sees the ice so well and is such a great team player that it was an easy decision for us to give him the opportunity to move up front,” Daley said. “You watch him in practice, he’s always moving the puck, always looking to take off with it, so you could tell he had the skill and the mindset to take on the role…I thought it would help us out, but I am a little surprised at how well it’s worked out.”
This isn’t the first time Daley has shifted a standout skater from the backend to his top line, and had great success. The longtime Howell head man saw a similar situation play out a season ago when he moved Ryan Damelio off the blue line andinto a first line center position, resulting in a career-year for the former captain, who would end up with 55 points and 39 goals.
And according to Mylod, it’s the success he saw with Damelio that gave him the confidence to make the move.
“Ryan moved up front his second or third game of the season, and it was an immediate impact. He really lit it up,” said Mylod, who was named captain of this current Howell club, and shared the lacrosse pitch as well the ice with Damelio, a sport in which the senior will continue to play next year at Delaware Valley University. “The thought was, he was a defenseman just like me, so if he could do it, I could do it. He really gave me a lot of confidence.”
THE FAN FAVORITE: The people have spoken, and they’ve made their voices heard in support of Jackson Memorial netminder James O’Hara.
In a Week 1 reader’s poll that saw upward of 45,000 votes cast, O’Hara received 42.76% of the vote, or 19,506 votes.
The freshman netminder — who played his club with the Jersey Shore Wildcats Bantam A program — received his nomination for the Sports Food Technology Player of Week 1 after making an appearance in Jackson Memorial’s home opener (Nov. 28) against Marlboro, in which he stopped 12 of 15 shots.
Three nights later, O’Hara stepped between the pipes for his first career start and was stellar, steering aside 30 of 33 shots faced to help the Jaguars to a 4-3 victory over non-divisional foe St. Rose, the freshman’s first career win.
O’Hara’s hot start to the season continued in Week 2, where on Wednesday (Dec. 6) the keepr registered his first career shutout with a nine-save showing against Class A South divisional rival Brick Memorial.
STARS OF WEEK 1
Ryan Burns & Zach Tarantino, Wall Township: Burns had multiple points in each of the Knights first three wins, including a hat trick against Brick Memorial, two goals against Southern Regional, and another tally against Monroe. Tarantino led the Knights in scoring in Week 1 with nine points and eight assists in those three wins. Tarantino also became the first player in Wall Township history to reach 100 career assists.
John Gelatt, John Gutt & Jake LaRusso, St. John Vianney: St. John Vianney played just a single Week 1 game, but it was a big one, as the Lancers took on a fellow local parochial rival in Red Bank Catholic, and the top line trio took the reins, combining for 11 points and four goals in a 5-0 triumph.
Deven Ralph, Middletown South: Ralph had five points and four goals in the Eagles first two games of the season, including two tallies and the game-winning marker in a 3-2 opening night victory over crosstown rival Middletown North.
Kenny Maxwell, Ocean Township: The freshman had nine points and seven goals in two games, including an opening night effort two remember, when he scored five times and assisted an another in a lopsided Spartans victory over non-conference foe Edison.
MAXWELL’S SILVER HAMMER: Kenny Maxwell has huge varsity debut for Ocean Township
Cole Schneider, Toms River North: Speaking of freshmen getting off to a hot start, Schneider logged 11 points on four goals and seven assists in three games for the Mariners, including a goal and five assists in an opening night victory over Lacey, and two more tallies on Dec. 1 against crosstown rival Toms River South-East.
John Meyer, Point Boro: The junior registered his first career shutout with 18 saves in a win over a Class A South victory over rival Brick Memorial.
Zach Yates & Patrick Murphy, Red Bank Regional: The duo combined for 11 points and seven goals in an opening night win over Edison. It was the first career hat trick effort for either player.
Brandon Coyle, Toms River South-East: The junior scored two goals, including the game-winner in a victory over crosstown rival Toms River North. The outing was Coyle’s first career multi-goal game.
Andrew Vinca, St. Rose: After suffering a freshman-year injury that has kept him sidelined, Vinca returned to the crease on opening night as a senior for his first career appearance as the full-time starter and made 30-saves in a 4-0 loss to CBA.