With only one win on the season, the DeSales High School hockey team will take extra motivation wherever it can find it.

With only one win on the season, the DeSales High School hockey team will take extra motivation wherever it can find it.

On Jan. 18, Watterson provided the Stallions with a little more incentive as the teams prepare for their first meeting on Friday at Dispatch Ice Haus.

As J.P. Mazzocco was getting ready to leave for an evening practice that day, he received a text message from a friend to turn on his television to the Columbus Blue Jackets' game because the coverage included a feature about Watterson.

The Blue Jackets had invited winless Watterson to attend their practice that day. During the TV segment, one of the Eagles' players talked about how his team hadn't had much success during the season, but beating DeSales would make it all worth it.

"If they were to knock us off, it would make their year," said Mazzocco, who started as a goaltender but now plays forward for the Stallions. "(Playing Watterson for the first time in hockey) means everything to me. I don't think guys realize how important it is to me. I played football and baseball and my brother played football. Just the tradition with the other sports and finally it comes to hockey. I'm so excited. I can't wait."

Watterson is a first-year program. Eagles coach Don Lewis started the program after he became an English teacher at the high school. A USA hockey certified coach, Lewis used to coach the Olentangy club hockey team. But after receiving permission from Watterson's administrators, Lewis spent a year organizing a varsity hockey program. The Blue Jackets donated $5,000 last spring to help the effort move forward.

Watterson has struggled mightily in its inaugural season. The Eagles are 0-9 in the Capital Hockey Conference and have been outscored 114-1.

If any team understands what Watterson is going through, it's DeSales. In just its fourth season as a varsity program, the Stallions routinely have had to throw first-year players on the ice against teams loaded with experienced players.

The Stallions struggled in most of their three previous seasons. They peaked last season, going 14-17-3 overall and 6-10 in the CHC with a senior-laden roster. A lot of new faces have joined the team this season, forcing the Stallions to start the building process again.

DeSales is 1-16-2 overall after playing Springboro to a 2-all tie last Sunday. The Stallions, who are 0-8 in the CHC, trailed 2-0 but rallied to tie the game on a shorthanded goal by Dakota Rock with less than four minutes left.

"We have kids that have never played hockey before, so it's kind of a mixed bag," assistant coach Will Bridgeo said. "We have a few kids that have been playing their whole life and we have some that thought it might be fun to try it this year. We don't have a lot of depth as far as being able to roll four lines out there. Those teams like Coffman can field a full team and a junior varsity."

DeSales does not have a junior varsity. When it was a club team in 2004-05, it played a junior varsity schedule. With a lot of inexperience, the Stallions have kept their outlook realistic this season. They took a measure of respect in only losing to Coffman 5-0 last Saturday. Coffman, the top-ranked team in the district poll last week, improved to 9-0 in the CHC with the win.

Despite the Stallions' record, defensemen Ryan Williamson, who also scored against Springboro, said the team has continued to work hard. The Stallions practice with several eighth graders and are expecting many of them to join the program next season.

The game against Watterson provides an opportunity to show that the last three seasons have meant something in terms of player development. It's also a chance to break the tie for last in the CHC.

"We finally get our chance to play Watterson, our biggest rival and we're not taking anything easy on them," Williamson said. We're not letting up. (On television) when they said they wanted to beat us, that's when all pads are down. It got us our attention, absolutely."