Westerville club hockey coach Brad Bloomberg said it took several games for his younger athletes to get used to playing together at the varsity level after his team lost 10 players to graduation.

Westerville club hockey coach Brad Bloomberg said it took several games for his younger athletes to get used to playing together at the varsity level after his team lost 10 players to graduation.

The Warcats lost their first seven games during that adjustment period before going 5-3-2 to improve to 5-10-2 overall and 2-6-2 in the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League.

"We're definitely a young team and it took some time to get our guys more experience and to figure some things out about how to win games at this level," Bloomberg said. "We've been getting more consistent in each area of how we play, including our scoring, defense and goaltending. I'm hoping we'll keep winning games at a faster pace as we continue improving in those areas."

After the Warcats lost their first four league games, including a 5-0 setback to Newark on Nov. 6 and a 5-2 loss to Northeast on Nov. 14, they began to turn their season around by going 2-0-2 in their next four league contests.

Westerville tied PHA at 3 on Nov. 15 and Newark at 3 on Nov. 21 before defeating Athens 8-4 on Nov. 22 and beating Northeast 6-2 on Dec. 7.

Against Athens, Victor Runyon scored three goals, Hunter Fortin and Nick Orioli each had two goals and an assist, Vincent Murdock had three assists, Nick Olson had a goal and an assist and goaltender Parker Rodgers stopped seven of eight shots.

Against Northeast, Fortin and Orioli each scored two goals, Ryan Butler and Evan Ingram each scored a goal and Rodgers stopped 20 of 22 shots.

"Our chemistry is getting a lot better and we're really coming together as a team," Murdock said. "When we beat Northeast 6-2 after they beat us earlier in the season, it showed how far we've come.

"We're scoring a lot more goals, especially our top forward line of Hunter Fortin, Nick Orioli and Victor Runyon. Parker Rodgers is getting a lot better, too, as he gets a better understanding of what it takes to win at the varsity level."

The Warcats continued to play well in the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic held Nov. 28-30 at Chiller North.

Westerville opened with a 7-6 victory over Worthington Kilbourne on Nov. 28 before defeating Owensboro (Ky.) 6-2 and Oregon Clay 10-6 the following day.

On Nov. 30, the Warcats lost to Wooster 6-4 in the White Division championship game.

"Winning three games in the Thanksgiving tournament gave us a boost of confidence," Bloomberg said. "Two of our best defensemen, Jacob Hardy (broken foot Nov. 21) and Travis Furman (broken collarbone Nov. 22) have been out with major injuries, which has left us with only three true defensemen in Vincent Murdock, Nathan Vititoe and Jack Larimer. But Nick Olson has been helping us on defense and our team defense has been getting better."

Leading Westerville in scoring through 15 games were Fortin (19 goals, 8 assists), Orioli (14 goals, 5 assists), Murdock (5 goals, 9 assists), Runyon (7 goals, 5 assists) and Ingram (5 goals, 3 assists).

With those players leading the way, the Warcats are looking forward to facing Athens in a league game Friday, Dec. 19, at Bird Arena. They then will have a week off before facing Athens on Dec. 26 and Dayton on Dec. 27 in league games at Chiller North.

"We view all of our upcoming league games as winnable games," Bloomberg said. "We want to see improvement by beating these teams that we lost to earlier in the season. If we can do that, I think we can still get back into the league title race."