Gahanna Lincoln High School hockey coach Dante Scuderi sees his team's two-game stay in the district tournament as a reflection of its improvement.

Gahanna Lincoln High School hockey coach Dante Scuderi sees his team's two-game stay in the district tournament as a reflection of its improvement.

The Lions stopped Dublin Scioto for the second time in six days and third time this season by posting a 4-1 victory in the opening round on Feb. 18 at Chiller Dublin. Then, in the second round Feb. 20 at Chiller Dublin, they were tied at 2 with fifth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller after the first period before eventually losing 6-2 to finish 8-20-3 overall.

Gahanna previously had defeated the Irish 9-0 in the Blue Jackets Cup on Feb. 13 and 10-0 in a Capital Hockey Conference game on Dec. 31.

"You always hear how hard it is to beat a team three times (in the same season)," Scuderi said. "This one, it wasn't as easy, but we got another win and did it in the tournament."

The Lions had lost 5-0 to Moeller when the teams played in a CHC contest on Jan. 22. Senior Andrew Winters and sophomore forward Brandon Staneluis scored the goals in the tournament game for Gahanna.

Moeller went 11-2 with 22 points to place third in the CHC behind co-champions Olentangy Liberty and Dublin Jerome (12-1 each, 24 points). Also qualifying for the Blue Jackets Cup championship tournament were Dublin Coffman (10-2-1, 21), St. Charles (7-4-2, 16), Upper Arlington (7-4-2, 16), Olentangy Orange (6-4-3, 15) and Olentangy (7-6, 13).

"The Moeller game was a tough one, of course," Scuderi said, referring to the tournament loss to the Crusaders. "But the game was a lot closer than the score indicates."

The Lions finished 10th in the CHC (4-9, 8) and played in the consolation tournament of the Blue Jackets Cup, which concluded Feb. 12, along with ninth-place Thomas Worthington (5-7-1, 11) as well as DeSales (3-9-1, 7), Worthington Kilbourne (2-11, 4), Scioto (1-12, 2) and Watterson (0-13, 0).

Gahanna split two games in that tournament as well, losing 3-2 to DeSales on Feb. 12.

The Lions lose five seniors in Winters, Quentin Holmes, Jim Viers, Bryson Adkins and Alex Barok, a four-year starter who played forward and defense and served as the team's captain.

The list of expected returnees includes sophomore goaltender Nick Kasubinski, sophomore forward Austin Hays, junior forward Sean Moser, junior defenseman Dom Palombaro and freshman forward Evan Kraus. Palombaro and Kraus were assistant captains.

Also expected back are juniors Shane Austin, Ryan Judy, Tyler Mizera, Ross Perry and Alex Murch and sophomores David Despas, Andy Yates, Colin Smallwood, Jack Jander and Sam Derlis.

"We just need to get a little stronger. We'll get into the gym and maybe attend a (summer) camp," Scuderi said. "For the most part, I think we achieved what we thought we would given how young we were."