Dublin Jerome High School hockey coach Pat Murphy doesn't see any star-caliber players on his roster, but that doesn't mean the outlook for the season is all doom and gloom.

Dublin Jerome High School hockey coach Pat Murphy doesn't see any star-caliber players on his roster, but that doesn't mean the outlook for the season is all doom and gloom.

In fact, Murphy believes the Celtics might be better off.

"We don't have the elite players that we've had in the past, but that may be a good thing because we may be more balanced now instead of relying on three or four players to carry our team," he said. "I don't see much of a difference in the skill level of our top players and the rest of the team, so we're counting on everybody to contribute, which may make us a stronger team from top to bottom."

Jerome, which opened Nov. 23 with a 4-1 win over St. Charles in a Capital Hockey Conference game, is coming off a season in which it finished 27-9-3 overall, won its second consecutive Blue Jackets Cup championship and reached the district final before losing to Olentangy Liberty 4-3 in overtime.

It marked the third consecutive season in which the Celtics have lost in the district final. They also lost to Liberty in 2011, falling 3-2 in double overtime, and lost to Olentangy Orange 3-2 in quadruple overtime in 2012.

Four of Jerome's leading scorers from last season have returned in senior forwards Lucas Brush (16 goals, 12 assists) and Chase Rose (15 goals, 12 assists) and junior forwards Chris Cathis (18 goals, 16 assists) and Coleman Mitchell (11 goals, 10 assists).

Rounding out the forwards are seniors Alex Booth, Jonathan Lelli, Joey Ryan and Colton Stewart, juniors Daniel Dodson, Dillon Miller and Zach Moore and sophomores Jonathan Kinkopf and Evan Walters.

The Celtics have seven defensemen in senior Mitchell Hunt, juniors J.D. Fletcher, Connor Henneberry, Tom Pease, Connor Potts and Seth Swearingen and sophomore Alexander Markovich and have returned both of their goaltenders in senior Shawn Ewert and junior Connor Willette.

Last season, Willette went 16-5 with a 1.48 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage and was second-team all-league, and Ewert went 11-5 with a 1.65 GAA and an .877 save percentage.

Among the key players from a year ago who were lost to graduation were forwards Alex Cathis and James Eastep or defensemen Sam Franklin and Luke Potter.

Eastep had 29 goals and 20 assists last season and finished as Jerome's career leader in games played (148), goals (104), points (166) and plus-minus (160).

Cathis (19 goals, 29 assists) and Franklin (9 goals, 16 assists) were named first-team all-league last season and Eastep and Potter (3 goals, 14 assists) were second-team all-league.

"In past seasons, we've always had a go-to person, like Eastep or (Alex) Cathis, on the ice," Lelli said. "This year, we have to work together to score. We're working hard to become a better team."

Last season, Jerome finished second (28 points, 13-2-2) in the five-team CHC-Red Division last season behind Liberty (32, 15-0-1-1) and won the Blue Jackets Cup for the sixth time in eight years, defeating Orange 2-0 in the final.

"Our goals haven't changed. We still want to finish first in (the CHC-Red), win another Blue Jackets Cup and win our first district championship," Murphy said. "We need to find a way to break through the district final because we've come up a goal short in overtime each of the past three years."