The Gahanna Lincoln High School hockey team knows a little about bucking the odds.
After winning just seven games in 2011-12, the Lions more than doubled their win total and won the Capital Hockey Conference-Blue Division a year ago in J.J. Stallsworth's second season as coach.
The Lions' task this winter is to become the first team to win the CHC-White a year after moving up from the CHC-Blue.
Gahanna has joined St. Charles, DeSales and Upper Arlington in the CHC-White after going 8-6-1-2 to win the CHC-Blue a year ago with 19 points.
The Lions opened Nov. 23 with a 4-1 win over Olentangy Liberty, which was a state semifinalist last season.
"It's going to be a lot tougher than last year, but we're excited for the challenge," senior forward Mason Settle said. "We'll need everyone to give their best effort."
Settle, who joined the program after moving from Indiana and had 22 goals and 25 assists last season, should be a key member of the offense, which the team believes is its biggest strength.
Also back is junior forward Skyy Goebel, who had 23 goals and 10 assists a year ago as the Lions went 15-15-3-2 overall.
The other senior forwards are Casey Jolly, Joe Slyman and Evan Kraus. Also at the position are juniors Austin Chrobak and Colby Hanna, sophomores Zach Chapman, Jake Chobany, Jason Greenberg and Nick Jaroscak and freshmen Jared Chobany, Justen Shotts and Andy To.
Against Liberty, Jared Chobany scored twice and Jake Chobany and Settle each scored once.
Several members of last year's defense were lost to graduation, including defensemen Jack Jander and Colin Smallwood.
Junior Chase Kauser, sophomores Erik Ferrin and Wayne Stegner and freshmen Jacob Nemec and Hunter Remy are expected to lead the defense. Jake Chobany also could see time as a defenseman.
Sophomore Zach Hansen and freshman Chris Henestofel have replaced 2013 graduate Tyler Klopfer at goaltender. Henestofel had 26 saves against Liberty.
"Defensively, we lost them all, so we're young," Stallsworth said. "We've got a freshman and a sophomore at goaltender.
"Offensively, (Settle) will be a big part of things. Last year was his first year on the team and he set the scoring record for the school. Offensively, we only lost two guys. We've got some good young guys."
After Gahanna won the CHC-Blue a year ago, it has switched places with Thomas Worthington in the CHC-White. Upper Arlington is in the CHC-White after being in the CHC-Red, and Olentangy Orange now is in the CHC-Red after being in the CHC-White.
Gahanna lost to top-seeded Liberty 8-3 in the first round of the Blue Jackets Cup last year and made it to the second round of the district tournament, where it lost to Orange 3-0.
The Lions went 7-29-1 overall and 2-15 in the CHC-White in 2011-12.
"The (CHC-White) is going to be really tough (this season)," Stallsworth said. "St. Charles has 15 seniors. We've got the same goals, which is to win the league because we want to move up. Nobody has ever won the Blue and White in back-to-back years, so that's definitely a goal. Those other three teams (in the CHC-White) could be better than some of the (CHC-Red) teams."