Zach Miller of the Olentangy Orange High School hockey team admits he's never been a prolific scorer.
So even he was surprised by a recent four-game stretch in which he recorded three hat tricks.
The junior forward found the net nine times during three victories in the Northwest Ohio Holly-Daze Tournament at The Cube in Findlay. He scored three goals as the Pioneers defeated Oregon Clay 5-3 on Dec. 28, had three more in a 6-3 win over Bowling Green on Dec. 29 and, after a 6-1 loss to Findlay on Dec. 29, scored three times in a 6-2 win over Whitehouse Anthony Wayne on Dec. 30.
"I'm usually a kid who gets two goals and doesn't get the third, but that didn't happen this time," said Miller, who had 13 goals and nine assists through 23 games. "When I got two goals in the first game (against Clay), I wasn't really feeling it, but when I got two in the second and third games, I knew I could get it."
Coach Tim Chugh said the achievement wasn't a result of Miller taking numerous shots, but the fact that his teammates found him during open opportunities.
"I told the kids to take a shot if they have it, not just try to feed Zach," said Chugh, whose team is 14-11-1 overall and 4-6-1 in the Capital Hockey Conference-White Division. "It wasn't a superhuman feat or anything because he was getting good passes in the slot. When you get a good pass like that, I expect all of our players -- even the goalies -- to make that shot. That being said, he was playing awfully well."
Miller also praised his teammates for being able to get him the puck in the right spots.
"My teammates were the key by getting good passes to me. I wouldn't be able to score without them," he said. "I had been playing well going into that (tournament), but I never expected that."
The Pioneers made a line switch, putting senior Jack Wander and junior Aaron Mosher alongside Miller. Chugh said it immediately started to pay dividends.
"We had been trying different combinations of kids and that line just has clicked for us," Chugh said. "They probably had 13 goals at Findlay and had one unselfish play after unselfish play. It has been fun to watch."
Miller suffered a concussion after taking a spill in the third period of a 5-0 loss to Liberty on Jan. 6 in league play. The loss ended a run of five wins in six games.
It was the first time Miller had missed time for a concussion, but he was able to return to the ice for the fifth annual Pioneer Classic on Jan. 13 and 14. Orange went 1-2 in the event, defeating Springboro 3-1 and losing to Mentor 5-3 on Jan. 13 before losing to Newark 5-3 on Jan. 14.
"Sometimes we struggle at getting shots on goal," Miller said. "In practice we have to take a lot of shots, making sure to keep the shots low and keeping them from going over the net. You have to make sure to keep your stick straight when you take a shot."
Miller has been surprised at how well the Pioneers have played after losing their top three scorers from last season to graduation. They got a goal in overtime from Nathan Hazel to defeat four-time defending CHC divisional champion St. Charles 2-1 on Dec. 22.
"When we put our mind to it and play as a team, we have done well," Miller said.
Kicas leading boys bowlers
Andrew Kicas led the boys bowling team with a 183.6 average through six matches.
Orange was 4-2 overall before facing Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 16. It also is 4-2 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division and 2-1 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Tommy Ciaciura was next for the Pioneers with a 181.3 average, followed by Jaden Wiebell (180.7), Gabe Jacobs (175.8) and Tanner Davidson (166.3).
Raymie Shields' 159.5 was the top average for the girls team, which was 4-2 overall before facing Kilbourne. It is 4-2 in the COHSBC-B and 2-1 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Mckenzie Peterson (150.4) was next, followed by Haley Wemple (149.5), Emma Storrer (137.6) and Remy Gray (134.3).
Evans leads wrestlers at Oregon Clay
Connor Evans was fifth at 145 pounds to lead the wrestling team in the Mike Casey-Maumee Bay Classic on Jan. 12 and 13 at Oregon Clay.
The Pioneers tied Toledo Whitmer for 24th (51.5 points) behind champion Elyria (213.5) as 45 teams scored.
Evans defeated Maumee's Justin Schneider 9-6 in the fifth-place match as he improved to 16-6.
Rocco Torio placed seventh after pinning Whitmer's Blaike Ellis in 3 minutes to improve to 11-9.
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 19 -- At Olentangy Liberty. The Pioneers defeated the Patriots 71-65 on Dec. 8.
Jan. 23 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
*Jan. 19 -- Home vs. Liberty. The Pioneers lost to the Patriots 59-32 on Dec. 8.
Jan. 20 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome
Jan. 23 -- At Coffman
*Jan. 18 -- Westerville South at Capri Lanes
*Jan. 19 -- Olentangy at Delaware Lanes
*Jan. 22 -- Westerville North at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
Jan. 18 -- At Thomas Worthington with Olentangy and Worthington Kilbourne
Jan. 24 -- At Kilbourne with Grove City and Thornville Sheridan
*Jan. 20 -- Thomas at Chiller North
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 19 -- Dublin Scioto at Dublin Recreation Center
*Jan. 18 -- At Westerville North
Jan. 20 -- Dan Wasserbeck Classic at North Union