Dublin Coffman High School hockey coach Darcy Cahill felt like his team needed a signature win to boost its confidence after finishing with a .500 record each of the past two seasons.
The first-year coach said the Shamrocks earned that kind of victory by defeating Jerome 5-2 on Dec. 15 in a Capital Hockey Conference game.
Coffman improved to 9-4 overall and 3-1 in the CHC-Red Division with the win, which avenged the Shamrocks' 3-0 loss to Jerome on Dec. 5 in the Adam Allgeyer Tournament and snapped their seven-game winless streak against the Celtics.
The Shamrocks hadn't beaten Jerome since a 2-1 win on Feb. 11, 2011. They went 0-2 against the Celtics last season and went 0-3-1 against them in the 2011-12 season.
"We haven't beat Jerome in years, so this meant a lot to the kids," Cahill said. "This is the biggest win we've had in a long time because of our rivalry. Our team is still learning how to win and we needed a win like this to show the kids that we're capable of beating any team we play. This should give us a lot of confidence and momentum going into the second half of the season."
The Shamrocks had built a 4-0 lead by the end of the second period, as J.T. Latshaw scored in the first period off an assist by Matt King and Nate Babner, Mark Heneman and Kyle Talebi each scored in the second period.
Babner added an empty-net goal in the waning moments of the game and goaltender Grant Powell had 22 saves, as Coffman successfully rebounded from a 3-1 league loss to St. Charles the previous day.
"It felt great to finally beat Jerome, especially since we were able to really take it to them," Powell said. "This puts us in first place in the Red Division and gives us a big boost. We know we can compete with anyone now."
The Shamrocks earned at least temporary bragging rights as the top team in Dublin last weekend, as they also defeated Scioto 18-0 in a league game Dec. 13.
Thomas Tate had four goals to lead the offensive charge. Ryon Malas had two goals and two assists, Austen Hayden and Talebi each had a goal and three assists, Babner and Nathan Rusin each had a goal and two assists, Alex Scheplin had three assists and King and Trevor Rawdon each had two goals.
Goalie Brian Hoover had eight saves against the Irish.
"We actually played well against St. Charles, too. We just forgot how to play in our own end for a few minutes and it cost us," Cahill said. "Our seven seniors have been outstanding leaders, and we're getting great goaltending.
"We need to play through our system and stress defense first. When we play well on our own end and move where we need to be without the puck, we're tough to beat."
Celtics looking to bounce back
Jerome is looking to bounce back after going 0-1-2 in league games last weekend.
The Celtics, who are 8-2-2 overall and 1-1-2 in the CHC-Red, tied Olentangy Orange at 1 on Dec. 13 and tied Upper Arlington at 2 on Dec. 14 before losing to Coffman.
Tom Pease scored and goalie Connor Willette had 24 saves against Orange and Lucas Brush and Coleman Mitchell each scored and goalie Shawn Ewert had 27 saves against UA.
"We didn't play very hard (last) weekend and getting two points out of a possible six is not a successful weekend," coach Pat Murphy said. "We're disappointed, but it's still early in the season and there's no reason to panic. We just need to prepare better as a team.
"I would think (last weekend) will serve as a wake-up call that we have to play hard every night to win."
The Celtics, who beat St. Charles 4-1 in their league opener Nov. 23, are 7-1 outside league play. They picked up four of those wins in the Adam Allgeyer Tournament held Dec. 5-8 at Chiller Dublin.
In addition to beating Coffman in the Allgeyer event, Jerome defeated Fishers (Ind.) Hamilton Southeastern A 4-3 on Dec. 6, Springboro 12-2 on Dec. 7 and Hilliard 6-0 on Dec. 8.
Chris Cathis had two goals and Brush scored one in the win over Coffman and Willette had 12 saves.
Brush, who scored two goals against Hilliard, was named Tournament MVP as the Celtics went 4-0 and won the varsity division.
"Winning the Adam Allgeyer Tournament was nice," Murphy said. "Two of our defensemen, Tom Pease and Connor Potts, have been our most steady players overall."
Irish still looking for first league win
Scioto went 0-3 in league games last weekend, dropping to 2-10 overall and 0-4 in the CHC-Blue Division.
After losing to Coffman, the Irish fell to Olentangy 7-0 on Dec. 14 and lost to St. Charles 16-0 on Dec. 15. They have been outscored 54-2 in league play.
Scioto defeated Athens 5-3 on Nov. 29, as Scott Carter had two goals and two assists, Max O'Connell and Cody Rice each had a goal and an assist, Alex Kovac had a goal and goalie Tim Sizemore had 28 saves.
The Irish picked up their other win against Olentangy Liberty's junior varsity, winning 6-5 on Dec. 8, as Carter and Matt Ward each had two goals and an assist and goalie Wils Hutras had 26 saves.