With two players already sidelined and playing a fourth game in fewer than 42 hours and with the switch to daylight saving time also thrown into the mix, the Westerville club hockey team could not afford more bad news when it faced Newark in a state semifinal March 11 at Chiller North.

With two players already sidelined and playing a fourth game in fewer than 42 hours and with the switch to daylight saving time also thrown into the mix, the Westerville club hockey team could not afford more bad news when it faced Newark in a state semifinal March 11 at Chiller North.

It came nonetheless when defenseman Jacob Ganger, a Westerville North High School senior who led the Warcats with 170 hits, went down with an injury during a 5-2 loss.

Westerville finished 25-15-5 overall.

South senior defenseman Kyle Arens, a co-captain who sported a plus-23 rating, was unavailable after being injured in pool play, during which Westerville went 2-0-1. The Warcats also were without Central sophomore forward Tyler Ahearn, who had 15 points in 24 games but missed the second half of the season with a concussion.

The Warcats totaled 12 points in pool play to earn a spot in the final four along with Hilliard (13) and Newark (13) of the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League and Jackson (12) of the Cleveland-based North Coast High School Hockey League.

"We were really down on numbers," third-year coach Brandon Fackey said. "I think we just ran out of gas a little bit there at the end."

The Warcats defeated Butler County of the Cincinnati High School Hockey League 5-1 and North Royalton of the NCHSHL 7-2 and tied eventual state runner-up Jackson at 3 during pool play, which was held March 9 and 10.

Newark went on to defeat Jackson 3-2 in the final as a GCHSCHL team captured the state title for the fourth time in five seasons.

"It's a great accomplishment for our league," Generals coach Don Jennings said.

Newark also won the state championship in 2009, a year after Athens gave the GCHSCHL its first title. Northeast was state champion in 2011.

Jackson eliminated two-time GCHSCHL regular-season champion Hilliard 4-3 in a shootout in the other state semifinal.

"If a couple of bounces go our way, we're playing in the championship game," Fackey said.

Newark also won the league's Blue Jackets Cup by defeating Hilliard 4-3 in the final Feb. 25 at Chiller Dublin. The Generals won the first two regular-season games against Westerville, which then salvaged the series by prevailing 4-1 in the third meeting Jan. 20 and playing to a 1-all tie in the regular-season finale Feb. 12.

Westerville, which won two games in the Blue Jackets Cup, went 11-8-1 (23 points) in the GCHSCHL to place third behind Hilliard (17-1-2, 36) and Newark (13-4-3, 29) and ahead of Northeast (8-10-2, 18), PRPC (6-12-2, 14) and Athens (0-20, 0).

"We matched up pretty well with the state champs," Fackey said of Newark.

Westerville loses seven seniors, including Arens, Granger, Central forward James Bradshaw and South forward Brandon Boll. Bradshaw led the team with 65 points (26 goals, team-high 39 assists) and a plus-24 rating and had 11 points during the state tournament. Boll had 51 points (team-leading 31 goals, 20 assists) with a plus-20 rating.

The other seniors are North's Ryan McMillen, Central's Brendan Brosnahan and Central goaltender Matt Knapp, who posted 23 victories with a 2.86 goals-against average and an .871 save percentage. Brosnahan had 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists).

Several top players are expected to return, however, including Central sophomore forwards Jacob English and Chris Spies and South freshman defenseman Vincent Murdock.

English tied for second on the team with 51 points (25 goals, 26 assists) and had a plus-19 rating and Spies had 44 points (22 goals, 22 assists) and was a plus-16. Murdock totaled 127 hits.

Also expected to return are Marysville junior Sean McNally, South junior Austin Siemer, North sophomore Wyatt Pagel and Central sophomores Tyler Pias and Tyler Ramsey. Siemer had 21 points and Ramsey had 17.

"We do lose some senior leaders, but we've got a nice group coming back and I think we'll be getting some outside help, too," Fackey said. "We were young in some key spots.

"And we played some of our best hockey (in the state tournament) despite being short-handed at the end. That's going to really help us going forward. The guys believed in each other and trusted each other."