For the Gahanna Lincoln High School hockey team, not much could have topped this.
The Lions had a day to remember Dec. 10, beating Beavercreek 7-4 in an afternoon game at Nationwide Arena before eating dinner at a nearby Buca di Beppo and attending the Columbus Blue Jackets' game that evening.
"It was awesome," said sophomore Jake Chobany, who had two goals. "I wish (the arena) would have been more packed with people, but (the ice) felt a lot better than it does when we're playing at the Easton Chiller."
The win brought another reward, as it extended the Lions' winning streak to eight to start the season.
Gahanna tied non-league Cincinnati St. Xavier at 4 on Dec. 14 and lost to Watterson 5-2 on Dec. 15 to fall to 8-1-1 overall and 1-1 in the Capital Hockey Conference-White Division.
Against Beavercreek, Gahanna scored with 15 seconds to go in the second period to take a 6-4 lead.
The Lions were at a two-man disadvantage for the final 2 minutes, 12 seconds. In addition, Beavercreek pulled its goaltender with 1:54 to go, but Gahanna's Evan Kraus stole the puck from a defenseman and skated for a breakaway goal with 1:32 left to seal the win.
Gahanna is averaging 5.7 goals, with its lowest output before the St. Xavier game coming when it beat defending district champion Olentangy Liberty 4-1 in its league and season opener Nov. 23.
"It's all been clicking," coach J.J. Stallsworth said. "The seniors and upperclassmen are leading and the young guys are buying in. We're getting results. We've been playing our system and it's working.
"Offensively, we've seven or eight guys who have scored double digits in points. We've been really balanced."
According to Stallsworth, the Lions have played at least one game in Nationwide Arena for the past several years and it's one of the "highlights of our season."
"(Nationwide Arena) is a great NHL facility and it's a top-class organization," Stallsworth said. "We asked the guys before the game, and only three or four of the kids hadn't played here before. Just to be on NHL ice is special."
Girls basketball team a 'work in progress'
The girls basketball team will look to close the 2013 portion of the OCC-Ohio Division schedule on a positive note when it plays host to Lancaster on Friday, Dec. 20.
With a 60-44 loss Dec. 13 at Newark, the Lions were 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the league before playing Reynoldsburg on Dec. 17.
Gahanna has had two freshmen in Nina Colson and Sam Jenkins among its key contributors and played its first seven games without senior Trinity Hunter, a 6-foot-1 post player who wasn't available because of an academic issue, according to coach Rick Hauser.
Junior guard Ana Hoosier was not in the lineup for the first seven games because of an injury.
"It's a work in progress," Hauser said. "As more and more of the season goes on we'll get better. Trinity could easily be our best player and a go-to player, but some other kids have been stepping up."
Junior Sydney Stokes, the only key returnee from last year's Division I district championship team, was averaging a team-best 14.1 points through seven games.
Jenkins scored 14 points and both Stokes and senior Chandlar Helms had 10 points against Newark, which led 18-5 after one quarter.
Sophomore Yasmin Norman was the second-leading scorer through seven games with a 10.0 average. She had 17 points and Stokes scored 16 in a 76-13 league win over Groveport on Dec. 9 and scored 10 points in support of Stokes' 13 in a 42-28 victory over Central Crossing on Dec. 10.
Senior Morgan Ross also has been a key contributor.
"We've been getting really good play out of Morgan Ross and Chandlar Helms," Hauser said. "Sydney and Yasmin have been doing some of our scoring.
"I'm one of those guys who likes to teach defense from the rim out, so we are a little bit different this year. We've been able to be competitive in every game."
Boys basketball team hopes to bounce back
Senior guard Manny Powell scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half of the boys basketball team's game Dec. 13 against visiting Newark, but it was a basket by Powell that was waved off in the closing seconds that might have been the difference in the Lions' 55-53 loss.
After a 3-pointer by Gahanna's Javon Bess with 43.5 seconds left cut Newark's lead to 51-50, the Wildcats' Jordan Dartis made the first of two free throws with 16.7 seconds to go to make it 52-50.
On Gahanna's next possession, Powell drove in and banked a shot into the basket but was called for a charge with 6.7 seconds left.
The Wildcats held on for their program's 1,500th all-time victory.
"To me that's an OCC-Ohio high school basketball game," coach Tony Staib said. "We were on the losing end, but if you paid $6, you got your money's worth.
"I thought Newark really outhustled us on a lot of the 50-50 balls and I think they wanted it more. I think they came in with a chip on their shoulder because we beat them three times last year, including in the district championship game."
Bess was held to 12 points but was leading the Lions in scoring average at 16.5 through four games.
Gahanna was 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Reynoldsburg on Dec. 17.
"I thought we had some mental lapses (against Newark), but it's early in the season," Staib said.