Even though its lineup has been ravaged by injuries this season, the Westerville club hockey team hasn't let that slow it down.
On Dec. 21, the Warcats defeated Athens 22-1 to improve to 15-3-3 overall and 8-0-2 in the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League.
"This is the point in the season where we usually fall off and lose some games, but we're still winning with a lot of our better players injured," forward Tyler Ramsey said. "Our success can be attributed to our focus and our depth, because every time we have a player go down with an injury, another one steps up and helps us keep winning."
The Warcats had only 10 players available when they faced the PHA Prowlers in a league game Dec. 20, but won 6-0.
Missing for that contest were forwards Tyler Ahearn (concussion), Tristan Freshley (concussion) and Nathan Thatcher (knee) and defensemen Brendan Kremer (back), Vincent Murdock (concussion) and Andrew Simmerman (ankle).
In addition, starting goaltender Tyler Plas left the game early in the second period with a knee injury and did not return. His backup, Parker Rodgers, stepped in and made seven saves to preserve the shutout.
Christopher Spies had two goals against the Prowlers and Ramsey, Jacob English, Cody Knight and Charlie Williams each scored one.
"We were down to 10 players against the Prowlers and at one point we had some penalties and we were down to just two guys left on our bench," Spies said. "But we've gotten used to having a small number of players and we work hard in practice to stay fit and we were able to stick together and play well for the guys we were missing."
Despite the injuries, the Warcats are averaging 5.4 goals.
Their leading scorers are English (22 goals, 22 assists), Spies (29 goals, 15 assists) and forward Edward Woods (12 goals, 12 assists). Other offensive contributors include Ramsey (10 goals, 9 assists), Knight (14 goals, 7 assists), Kremer (5 goals, 15 assists), Murdock (3 goals, 10 assists) and Thatcher (6 goals, 4 assists).
Plas is 13-2-3 with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
"We focus on our forechecking and we try to be the first guy to the puck so we can keep attacking when we're in our opponent's zone," Spies said. "We've had to change our forward lines around, depending on who is healthy, but we've been able to continue scoring a lot of goals. Cody Knight has really stepped up after he was more of a role player last year."
Westerville's next game is Jan. 3 against Painesville Riverside at Fairgrounds Coliseum. It returns to league action Jan. 5 against Newark at Chiller Easton.
The Warcats tied Newark at 2 on Nov. 3 and beat the Generals 4-3 on Nov. 21.
"Newark's always a big game for us because they are some of our best competition in our league," Ramsey said. "At this point, we just want to keep doing what we've been doing because we're scoring a lot of goals and we haven't been giving up many. Hopefully, we should be healthier by the time we play Newark and, once we're all healthy, we're going to be even better than we are right now."