Dublin Scioto High School hockey coach Chad Ellis believes his team will benefit from having more depth this season.

Dublin Scioto High School hockey coach Chad Ellis believes his team will benefit from having more depth this season.

Last season, the Irish's roster included seven forwards and four defensemen. That gave them two forward lines and two defensive pairings, whereas most of their opponents had four forward lines and three defensive pairings. While the Irish tended to wear down by the third period, most of their opponents were able to keep their players fresher, which in turn gave those opponents an advantage.

This season, Scioto has 11 forwards and five defensemen.

"Last year, we barely had enough kids to put together two forward lines and most of our kids were playing 20 to 25 minutes a game because we needed them out there every other shift," said Ellis, whose team opened Nov. 23 with a 13-2 loss to Thomas Worthington in a Capital Hockey Conference game. "I can remember us leading Olentangy 5-1 and then losing that game 7-5, not because they were the better team, but because exhaustion just kicked in for us.

"This year, we're going to have three forward lines and most of our kids will play about 15 minutes a game, which will make a huge difference in how fresh we are for the end of games."

Scioto, which finished 4-28 overall last season, must fill the void left by one of the top players in program history in forward Zach Vallette. The 2013 graduate had 30 goals and 18 assists last season and was named first-team all-league. He is the program leader in career assists (102) and career points (220) and ranks second in career goals (118) behind Jerry Staley (120).

Another void is at goaltender, as Fletcher Wentworth graduated and Christian Rice chose not to return for his junior season. Junior Tim Sizemore is the only goalie on the varsity roster.

Scioto returned its top two defensemen in junior Cody Rice and senior Scott Carter, although Carter is expected to see time at forward this season. The other defensemen are seniors Zach Beever and David Sneddon and sophomore Wils Hutras.

Last season, Carter had 13 goals and seven assists and Cody Rice had two goals and five assists.

Playing forward are senior Max O'Connell, junior J.R. Burke, sophomores Dean Moore and Dan Schorr and freshmen Gray Connor, Sean Hrelec, Evan Hutras, Alex Kovac, Jacob LeRoy, Matt Ward and Jacob Wogan.

"Even though Zach was a big asset for our team, we're learning to move the puck well and to set each other up so that we can play strong enough as a team to overcome our talent barrier," Carter said.

The team goals include making a better showing in league play. Last season, the Irish went 0-17 (0 points) in the five-team CHC-Blue Division to place fifth, behind champion Gahanna (19, 8-6-1-2). Gahanna moved to the CHC-White this season and was replaced by Thomas Worthington.

"We're definitely working hard to try to get more wins in our league," Carter said. "With the way we're playing and sharing the puck, I definitely think we have a lot of potential to upset some teams this year."

Ellis said it is crucial for the Irish to support Sizemore offensively.

"This isn't a knock on Tim, but our goalie is inexperienced, so he's probably going to let in goals that most goalies wouldn't let in," Ellis said. "We need to score a lot of goals to give ourselves a chance to beat the better teams on our schedule."