The Westerville club hockey team started strong last season to put itself in position to place in the top four of the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League standings and qualify for the Buckeye Cup state tournament.

The Westerville club hockey team started strong last season to put itself in position to place in the top four of the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League standings and qualify for the Buckeye Cup state tournament.

But the Warcats floundered down the stretch, losing three of their last five league games to finish sixth in the GCHSCHL at 11-11-2 (24 points), behind PRPC (15-7-2, 32), Hilliard (14-7-3, 31), Northeast (14-7-3, 31), Newark (12-11-1, 25) and Athens (11-10-3, 25), and ahead of Delaware (0-24, 0). Delaware is not fielding a team this season.

Westerville then went 1-2 in the Blue Jackets Cup to finish 19-19-6 overall.

Instead of being discouraged by last season's poor finish, Central senior forward James Bradshaw said the Warcats are using it as motivation to be better this season. They were 8-3-2 overall and 3-3 in the GCHSCHL before playing Athens on Nov. 20.

"We felt bitter about the way last season ended because we needed just one more win to make it to the state tournament and we came up short," Bradshaw said. "Knowing we came so close motivated me and my teammates to work harder in the offseason. I went to more of the on- and off-ice training sessions and I saw a lot more people at those events. We also played hockey as much as possible, too. We're trying not to focus on what happened last year, but we learned from it and we're using that knowledge to take an extra step forward this year."

Bradshaw, South junior defender Kyle Arens and Central senior forward Brendan Brosnahan are serving as team captains.

Central senior Matthew Knapp is the Warcats' No. 1 goaltender, with Central sophomore Tyler Plas serving as his backup.

Also on the roster are Central senior forwards Tyler Ahearn and Todd Timler, Central junior forwards Brandon Bastian and Nicholas Brennan, South senior forward Brandon Boll, Central sophomore forwards Jacob English, Tyler Ramsey, Christopher Spies and Edward Woods, North senior defender Jacob Ganger, North sophomore forward Cody Knight, South freshman defender Vincent Murdock, North sophomore defenders Wyatt Pagel and Andrew Simmerman, South junior forward Austin Siemer, Marysville junior defender Sean McNally, North senior forward Ryan McMillen and Central senior defender David Veltum.

"These kids have great attitudes and there's no quit in them," third-year coach Brandon Fackey said. "Our captains are the epitome of hard work. Our defensive zone coverage is very solid and our players know where they need to be on the power play. If this team continues on the track we're on right now in terms of leadership and effort, then this will be the Westerville team that is in contention for a good state tournament run."