The Northeast Storm already has survived what might be the toughest stretch it will face this season in the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League.

The Northeast Storm already has survived what might be the toughest stretch it will face this season in the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League.

Zach Turner, a freshman wing from New Albany, scored three goals while another newcomer, senior forward Tyler Wickiser of New Albany, had four points during a 9-1 victory over the first-year Delaware Tribe last Saturday.

That gave the Storm a 3-3-3 league record after nearly five weeks of regular-season play. It managed an 0-1-2 mark during that period against the Hilliard Wildcats, who most coaches agreed were the preseason favorite, and it also defeated the PRPC Ice Prowlers for the first time 5-3 on Oct. 29 behind Wickiser's goal and three points.

"We had several guys who couldn't play until football was over and then one of our best new kids (Turner) got hurt and missed some early games (with a separated shoulder)," third-year coach Mark Fixari said. "Coming into the season our goal was to just make it through this first month or so and be around .500, and that's where we're at. Really, we're just excited to make it through this part of the schedule."

The Storm, which plays PRPC again Saturday at the Chiller Easton, has been helped by newcomers at both ends of the ice. Freshman Ryan Wickiser is sharing time at goalkeeper with returning senior Ryan Mayo of New Albany, and sophomore defenseman Tyler Brumfield of Bexley has added size to the blue line.

"The Wickiser family, and the other new kids as well, have really added to our program," Fixari said. "But most of the kids did play for us last year and that's a testament to our development as a program. We didn't even have a (junior varsity) when I got here and we only had one win the year before that (in 2007-08)."

Tyler Wickiser is centering the top line and led the team with six goals through nine games. Also playing on that line is Turner and Cameron Ballew, a returning senior from New Albany who led the team with eight assists. The second line is centered by New Albany senior Colin Laviola and also features Northland senior Dan Smith and New Albany senior T.J. Williams. Steven Fry, a Watterson senior, is centering a checking line that also includes New Albany senior Kohl Fixari and Liberty Union junior Hayden Cook.

The team's top defensive pairing has been New Albany junior Bryce Mason lining up with Bloom-Carroll senior Brady Kiehl. Mason, a third-year player, also is a key figure on both the power play and penalty-kill units. Coach Fixari said Kiehl might be the team's most physical player.

The roster is rounded out by Bexley's Danny Bloch (senior defenseman), Liberty Union's Matt Maldovan (sophomore forward) and New Albany's Matt Nemec (senior defenseman) and Zach Sevenish (junior defenseman).

"This is a fun time for the Storm," coach Fixari said. "We're looking forward to competing every night because we can compete every night with the teams in this league now. I think we've shown that already."

The Storm has nearly matched its win total from last season when it finished in last place (4-17-4, 12 points) in the GCHSCHL as the Newark Generals (14-5-6, 34), Hilliard (12-4-9, 33), Athens Bobcats (14-6-5, 32) and PRPC (80-10-7, 23) qualified for the state club tournament. The Westerville Warcats placed fifth (6-15-4, 16). Coach Fixari doesn't expect a similar finish this season, however.

"Stay tuned," he said. "We are yet to play our best hockey."