The Dublin Jerome High School hockey team has struggled against the more competitive opponents on its schedule this season.
The Celtics will attempt to break that trend and stay in contention for the Capital Hockey Conference-Red Division title when they play Olentangy Orange on Friday, Jan. 10, and Olentangy Liberty on Saturday, Jan. 11, at Dublin Chiller.
"These are two big league games against two of the top teams in our area, so we're going to need to play a lot better than we've been playing to beat either one of them," coach Pat Murphy said.
"We haven't been real consistent this season and I'm never sure which Dublin Jerome team is going to show up.
"We have to be more consistent in all three phases of the game. We've got to play better team defense and our goaltending has to be better because we're giving up too many goals. Our offense has been inconsistent and we're not scoring goals when we really need them. Our special teams have been inconsistent, too, so we've got a lot of work to do."
The Celtics won all three of their games last weekend, beating Watterson 11-3 on Jan. 3, Cincinnati Moeller 4-0 on Jan. 4 and DeSales 5-3 on Jan. 5, to improve to 13-6-2 overall and 6-1-2 in CHC play.
Coleman Mitchell and Daniel Dodson each scored two goals and Shawn Ewert had 12 saves against Watterson, Chris Cathis had two goals, Colton Stewart and Mitchell each scored one and Connor Willette had 14 saves against Moeller and Cathis, Dodson, J.D. Fletcher, Jonathan Kinkopf and Joey Ryan each scored and Ewert had 15 saves against DeSales.
However, the Celtics went 0-4 in Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit's holiday tournament held at Kent State, losing to Sylvania Northview (6-3 on Dec. 27), Walsh Jesuit (5-0 on Dec. 28), Hudson (4-3 on Dec. 28) and St. Charles (5-1 on Dec. 29).
Jerome had beaten St. Charles 4-1 in its league opener Nov. 23.
"We beat St. Charles and Dublin Coffman (3-0 on Dec. 5) early in the season and we won the Adam Allgeyer Tournament (held Dec. 5-8), but that's all history now and the only thing that matters is what we do moving forward," Murphy said.
"The competition in the Walsh Jesuit tournament was excellent, but we didn't play well and we got dumped pretty good.
"Our weaknesses have been exposed when we've played the tougher teams, and we now realize that we're going to need to overachieve to contend for championships. We've just got to work harder and execute our system with more responsibility when we play teams that are as strong as we are or are stronger than us."
According to Murphy, defensemen Mitchell Hunt and Seth Swearingen have been the Celtics' most consistent players.
"Mitchell and Seth have been steady on defense and we need more guys giving us a consistently good effort like those two have," Murphy said.
"We can't have the attitude that we're going to win no matter what because of what we've accomplished in the past. We have to earn our reputation all over again."
Irish beat Elder to snap losing streak
Scioto snapped a seven-game losing streak by beating Cincinnati Elder 3-2 on Jan. 2.
Scott Carter had two goals, including the game winner in the third period, and an assist. Matt Ward also scored and Wils Hutras had 17 saves.
"It can be demoralizing to lose so many games (in a row), but I've been pleased with the continual effort of our kids," coach Chad Ellis said.
"Scott Carter's been a great senior captain. He's scored the majority of our goals, in addition to playing defense and some goalie when we need him to. Wils Hutras has only played in goal for a month, but he's made some amazing saves. Cody Rice has been a vocal leader and has played well on defense, and Matt Ward and Alex Kovac have been steady players as well."
Scioto lost two CHC games last weekend, falling 9-2 to Olentangy on Jan. 4 and 10-0 to Upper Arlington on Jan. 5, to drop to 3-16 overall and 0-10 in league play.
"Of the 17 players on our team, more than half of them are freshmen or sophomores, and it can be tough when you have 14- or 15-year-old boys playing against teams full of bigger, stronger seniors," Ellis said.
"A lot of our players are new to hockey, too. Five of our guys are first-year players, including two of our seniors, and we have a handful of second-year hockey players, so a lack of inexperience is another big factor."
Shamrocks continue their winning ways
Coffman went 2-1 last weekend to improve to 13-9 overall and 6-3 in the CHC play.
After losing to Orange 5-2 on Jan. 3, the Shamrocks bounced back to beat DeSales 2-0 on Jan. 4 and Olentangy 8-1 on Jan. 5.
Nathan Rusin and Thomas Tate each scored and Grant Powell had 23 saves against DeSales and Nate Babner and Mark Heneman each had three goals and Powell had nine saves against Olentangy.