Recent play has Cards optimistic for league season
Although 4-6 overall, the Cardinals are coming off a strong showing against top-flight competition in the Cleveland Benedictine Tournament held last weekend at Cleveland Heights Pavilion.
Thomas went 2-1, defeating host Benedictine 7-1 last Friday as Sam Bachmann, Will Byars, Harrison Cohan, Tyler Graham, Shane Hartlaub, Reed Hickman and Nick Katona all scored. Goaltender Jonathan Highley had 28 saves.
Last Saturday, the Cardinals lost to Brecksville 4-2 before defeating Avon Lake 4-1. Cohan and Katona scored against Brecksville and goalie Hilton Dellinger had 27 saves. Against Avon Lake, Cohan and Graham both scored two goals and Dellinger had 16 saves.
"We're pretty happy with the past weekend," said Sockrider, whose team opens league play Friday against Olentangy at Chiller North. "We were able to put in some goals, which is something we had been struggling to do earlier in the season."
The Cardinals also have league contests Saturday against Olentangy Liberty and Sunday against St. Charles. Both games will be played at Chiller North.
Last season, Thomas went 4-11-1 in the CHC to place 10th (10 points), behind Dublin Coffman (31), Liberty (30), Dublin Jerome (27), Olentangy (20), Worthington Kilbourne (17), Gahanna (16), St. Charles (15), Upper Arlington (14) and DeSales (12) and ahead of Olentangy Orange (5) and Dublin Scioto (1).
This season, Watterson and Cincinnati Moeller were added to the CHC, raising the number of teams in the league to 14. Each team will play 13 league games, one against every league opponent.
"The league games are great, because you definitely have something to prove when you come back home for league games," Sockrider said. "You play against teams that you know and they also know your tendencies. You want to put on a good face, because if you beat someone or someone beats you, it's something that's carried forward into future games. Teams remember what happened in those games from last year or earlier in the season."
Graham leads the Cardinals with seven goals. Cohan has five goals and Byars has four.
"We've have shown good balance in our goal-scoring, especially with Harrison Cohan coming on in the last several games and having a really nice weekend at forward," Sockrider said. "Tyler Graham has been consistently playing at a high level for us. He has been creating a lot of offense for us."
Dellinger, a junior, and Highley, a sophomore, have been splitting time in goal.
"We have two goaltenders who are working hard and taking strides to be 'the guy' for our team," Sockrider said. "Time will tell which one goes ahead of the other, but right now there is a good competition between the two."
Although the Cardinals have been playing well, the players and coaching staff want more wins.
"In the last several seasons, we have had games that were close and, for whatever reason, we didn't have enough to win the games," Sockrider said. "But being close to someone isn't good enough. We want to win games, and we have that kind of leadership in the locker room, which can make a big difference. We have good leadership on this team, and they are willing to sacrifice to get the job done."
• Kilbourne is 2-4-1 heading into its CHC opener Friday against Moeller at Chiller North, but the Wolves have been playing with only 10 skaters and a goalie.
Freshman forward Patrick Roman may be lost for the season with a broken collarbone. Sophomore defenseman Perry Dilley has been out with a concussion and sophomore forward Andrew Dowler has been sidelined with a neck injury.
"I think Perry Dilley and Andrew Dowler will be back this weekend, but we're not sure about Patrick Roman," said assistant coach Craig Ullman, who is overseeing the team while coach Tom Erlenbusch is out of the country. "He could be back anywhere from mid-January to missing the rest of the season."
Senior Mitch Oliver leads the Wolves with eight goals and junior Joey Jacob has four. Senior goalie Jon Freer has averaged 34 saves per game.
"Freer has been outstanding in goal," Ullman said. "He has really kept us in games. We knew he was talented and we knew he would have to stop a lot of shots for us. He really has stepped up, just like we thought he would."
Last season, Kilbourne went 8-8 in the CHC to place fifth (17) behind champion Coffman (31).
The Wolves have league games Saturday against Orange and Sunday against DeSales. Both will be played at Chiller North.
On Nov. 28, Kilbourne defeated DeSales 5-2 and lost to Orange 2-1 in the Midwest Classic at Chiller Dublin. The Wolves also beat the Stallions in the Kilbourne Invitational on Dec. 7 at Chiller North, winning 3-2.
"We open with Moeller, which is a disciplined, deep team," Ullman said. "Then we play Orange, who we played really hard against but we ended up losing by a goal.
"On Sunday, we play DeSales, and we're really starting to develop a rivalry against them after playing two really physical games in the non-league part of our schedule."