Dustin Rock (left) and Kyle Apgar put the ball in play during the second half against Enosburg on December 17. (Photo by Josh Kaufmann)

Dustin Rock (left) and Kyle Apgar put the ball in play during the second half against Enosburg on December 17. (Photo by Josh Kaufmann)

Strong defensive play from the start and three straight victories have Milton hockey near the top of the Division II standings, heading into a busy month of January with a 5-2 record.

After opening with one-goal victories over Rice and North Country — both Division I schools — Milton lost back-to-back games to Stowe and Northfield but rebounded with two wins over Northfield around a second victory over North Country.

Outscoring the opponents 10-4 in their three-game streak, the Yellowjackets climbed to third place in the D-II standings and were facing two struggling teams — Lyndon and Brattleboro (both 2-6) — at home before next week’s rematch with visiting Stowe.

Boys hockey was the lone varsity sport with a game scheduled in the first few days of January, and goals by Andrew McQuinn, Liam Fersing and Elliot Hannah provided the offense in the team’s second straight 3-1 victory, over Northfield last Saturday night.

Eric Roy made 23 saves for the victory, the fourth time in seven games the Yellowjackets have given up one or no goals.

The boys basketball team finished the 2015 portion of its schedule with losses in four of its last five games, facing a particularly tough schedule in the second half of December with a pair of losses to 7-1 Winooski, one to 7-1 Lake Region, and another to Enosburg [see photo at right], last year’s Division II runner-up.

Milton’s victory in the middle of that five-game stretch was also against a strong opponent; Montpelier had won its first four contests of the season before dropping a 57-52 decision in Milton on December 21.

With a 3-5 record heading into January, Milton will open the Lake Division portion of its schedule Thursday night with a trip to Missisquoi.

On the girls side, the season-opener against overmatched Montpelier provided Milton’s only victory in December. The Solons, routed 55-11 by MHS on December 4, have lost all five of their games by at least 20 points and have not scored more than 23.

Since that victory, Milton has dropped five in a row — all by double-digits — but hopes to turn things around starting Friday with a trip to Middlebury.