Not many changes were made this season in the Thomas Worthington High School hockey program.

Not many changes were made this season in the Thomas Worthington High School hockey program.

The Cardinals had mostly the same personnel on ice and used similar offensive and defensive sets. The only difference was five more victories and a step in the right direction for the program.

Thomas lost to Centerville 5-0 in the opening round of the district tournament last Friday to finish 12-18-1 overall and better the seven-win performance of last season. Third-year coach Josh Sockrider said that was a testament to his senior class.

"It all came down to senior leadership," said Sockrider, whose team was 7-29-1 last season. "We didn't do anything as far as how we coached as coaches, and we had the same plays as in the past. I think the commitment on the part of the upperclassmen and the seniors was amazing. They set the tone in practice and they helped to elevate our play in games."

Senior forward Tyler Graham led Thomas with 15 goals after having 11 as a junior. Senior forward Nick Katona was close behind with 14 goals after scoring 18 times last season. The senior class is rounded out by defenseman Reed Hickman (4 goals), forward Grayson Livingston (5 goals), defenseman Tyler Pike, forward Zach Schaeffer and forward Hans Smith.

"We will have seven seniors graduating and they were a very good cohesive group and worked well with the younger players," Sockrider said. "They were tenacious with their work ethic and worked to increase success of the program."

Thomas finished 5-5-1-1 for ninth in CHC behind champion Olentangy Liberty at 11-1. The Cardinals did not play their league finale with Dublin Coffman because of bad weather. Several other teams did not play 13 league games because of weather-related cancellations.

Cincinnati Moeller was second in the league at 10-2-1 (21 points), followed by Coffman in third at 10-2 (20), St. Charles at 9-4 (18), Dublin Jerome at 8-2-1 (17), Olentangy Orange at 7-5-0-1 (15), Gahanna at 7-5 (14), Upper Arlington at 6-4-1-1 (14), Thomas, Olentangy at 5-7-0-1 (11), Worthington Kilbourne at 3-9 (6), DeSales at 1-10-1 (3), Dublin Scioto at 1-11-1 (3) and Watterson at 0-12 (0).

The top scorers expected to return are forward sophomore Harrison Cohan and freshman forward Will Byars with 11 goals apiece. Freshman defenseman Brett McCarthy had five goals. Junior forward Jimmy Danko, sophomore forward Seth Woodward and freshman forward Nick Highley had three goals apiece.

"We had a good group of new guys come in and contribute right from the start," Sockrider said. "Sometimes it takes underclassmen a while to get accustomed at the high-school level, but they played well."

The goalies were also underclassmen in junior Hilton Dellinger and freshman Jonathan Highley.

Also expected back will be junior forward Shane Hartlaub along with sophomores Kyle Gratz (defenseman), Graham Nadler (forward) and Seth Woodward (forward). Other freshmen expected to return are Sam Bachmann (forward) and Quintin Schomaker (defenseman).

•Kilbourne finished 8-18-1 overall following a 3-1 loss to Dublin Scioto last Friday in the district tournament. The Wolves were 11th in the CHC at a 3-9. They did not play their league finale with Jerome because of bad weather.

Third-year coach Tom Erlenbusch worked with a short-handed team that sometimes had as few as 10 skaters because of injury problems.

"We'll lose five and maybe gain five freshmen, so next year might be the same situation," he said.

"But the kids worked hard through it and gave it all they had."

The Wolves were led by senior defenseman Mitch Oliver, who scored 35 goals with 14 assists.

"Mitch was the guy who carried team on his shoulders and back," Erlenbusch said. "He always left it out on the ice and I was proud of the way he conducted himself overall. Win, lose or draw, he was always in the mix for us."

Oliver was joined in the senior class by forward Jay Carter, defensemen Kyle Downie and Brett Taylor as well as first-year senior goalie Jon Freer, who had a save-percentage of 90 and faced more than 700 shots.

"Like every group of seniors, they were the heart and soul of the team," Erlenbusch said. "Like any coach, you grow attached to them and you hate to see them go. They become like your kids."

The top scorers expected back for the Wolves are sophomore defenseman Joe Fischer (17 goals, 13 assists), sophomore defenseman Perry Dilley (9 goals, 5 assists) and junior forward Joey Jacob (8 goals, 4 assists).

Also expected to return are junior defenseman Matt Agner and freshmen Garren Erlenbusch (forward), Nick Marinelli (forward/defenseman), Patrick Roman (forward) and Nathan Walters (forward/defenseman).

At a glance

KILBOURNE

•Record: 8-18-1 overall, 3-9 (11th) in CHC

•Seniors lost: Jay Carter, Kyle Downie, Jon Freer, Mitch Oliver and Brett Taylor

•Key returnees: Matt Agner, Perry Dilley, Garren Erlenbusch, Joe Fischer, Joey Jacob, Patrick Roman and Nathan Walters

THOMAS

•Record: 12-18-1 overall, 5-5-1-1 (ninth) in CHC

•Seniors lost: Tyler Graham, Reed Hickman, Nick Katona, Grayson Livingston, Tyler Pike, Zach Schaeffer and Hans Smith

•Key returnees: Will Byars, Harrison Cohan, Hilton Dellinger, Kyle Gratz, Shane Hartlaub, Jonathan Highley and Brett McCarthy