Westerville News & Public Opinion

Hockey

Warcats looking to find rhythm

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PAUL VERNON/THISWEEKSPORTS
Jacob English of Westerville vies for the puck with Hilliard's Jared Vaught during a game last month. English had a team-high 64 points with 32 goals and 32 assists through 30 games for the Warcats, who are 18-5-8 overall.
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The Westerville club hockey team is looking to regain its form from earlier in the season.

The Warcats had a 15-3-3 overall record before taking a two-week break from games for the holidays. Since then, they have gone 3-2-5.

Despite the fact that his team has only three wins in its last 10 games, coach Brad Bloomberg said he isn't overly concerned.

The Warcats were 18-5-8 overall and 9-1-5 in the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League after tying the PHA Prowlers at 5 on Jan. 25.

"We've had a slow start after the break, but I'm very happy with where we're at overall and with what we're doing," Bloomberg said. "We may have been overconfident in our first few games back after we had such a great start, but we're beginning to play the kind of hockey that we were playing before the break and, if we keep that up, I'm confident we'll start winning with more regularity again."

The Warcats scored two goals in the final 90 seconds to tie Hilliard at 3 in a league game Jan. 12. Cody Knight, Tyler Ramsey and Christopher Spies each scored, Jacob English had three assists and goaltender Parker Rodgers had 17 saves.

"Our players showed a lot of resilience in our comeback against Hilliard," Bloomberg said. "The result may have been a tie, but that game felt like a victory after the way we came back from two goals down in the final minute and a half."

Westerville outshot Newark 40-21 in a league contest Jan. 23 but had to settle for tie a 1-all tie. Tyler Ahearn scored for the Warcats and Rodgers had 20 saves.

"We played great at Newark, but we couldn't put the puck in the net," Spies said. "We really came together as a team and killed their goalie with shots, but he made a lot of great saves and we just couldn't bury one more puck to beat them. Even though we didn't win (that) game, I think it's going to give us a lot of momentum because we played so well."

Westerville has league games against Northeast on Saturday, Feb. 1, at Chiller Easton and Hilliard on Sunday, Feb. 2, at Chiller Ice Works.

The Warcats tied Northeast at 2 on Nov. 15 before beating the Storm 4-3 on Dec. 8, and they are 2-0-1 against Hilliard, having won 5-4 on Nov. 17 and 6-0 on Dec. 15 before tying Jan. 12.

Starting goalie and team captain Tyler Plas has missed 11 games with a knee injury but is expected to be back in the lineup this weekend.

"We had a lot of injuries early in the season, but we've got everyone back now, so I just want to stay healthy and make sure we peak in the league and state tournaments," Bloomberg said. "We have a lot of depth, speed and skill and some creative offensive players, and we've been scoring a lot of goals. I think we need to be a little bit better in our defensive zone, though. We need to be more aggressive and suffocating when the other team has the puck. We can't give them any space at all."

Westerville's top-5 scorers through 30 games were English (32 goals, 32 assists), Spies (34 goals, 23 assists), Edward Woods (14 goals, 16 assists), Knight (16 goals, 11 assists) and Ramsey (12 goals, 12 assists).

Through 30 games, Plas was 13-3-3 with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage and Rodgers was 5-2-4 with a 2.95 GAA and an .871 save percentage.

"Our forward line of Jacob, me and Tyler (Ahearn) has been scoring a lot of goals," Spies said. "Tyler has stepped it up recently and he's been scoring some key goals. Having our starting goalie out really hurt us at first, but Parker has really stepped it up for us and made some unbelievable saves."

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