The Westerville club hockey team bounced back from a subpar season to finish 23-18-4 overall and qualify for the state tournament.

The Westerville club hockey team bounced back from a subpar season to finish 23-18-4 overall and qualify for the state tournament.

After finishing 24-8-11, winning the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League championship and advancing to the state tournament in 2013-14, the Warcats slipped to 12-21-4 overall and 5-15-4 (14 points) in the league last season.

This season, Westerville went 1-2 in the 12-team state tournament, the Buckeye Cup, which was held March 4-6 in Cincinnati.

"It's not the outcome that we had hoped for, but it was still a good weekend," said coach Brian Thompson, who completed his first season after serving as an assistant the previous two. "When we look back on it we will be pretty happy with what we've done and the improvement we showed this year over last year."

Fifth-seeded Westerville opened the tournament by losing to eighth-seeded Wooster 5-3 on March 4.

The Warcats lost to second-seeded Newark 2-1 on March 5 before closing play with a 6-5 win over 11th-seeded Northern Kentucky later that day.

"We didn't get off to a good start and we knew we had to get the first one to really give us a chance," Thompson said. "We didn't have our best game (March 4). We were pretty sloppy."

Westerville finished third in the GCHSCHL at 13-8-3 with 29 points, securing a berth in the state tournament as top three teams advanced.

The Warcats finished behind Newark (40 points, 19-3-2) and Dayton (37, 17-4-3) and ahead of Northeast (28, 13-9-2), Hilliard (24, 11-11-2), Athens (6, 3-21) and PHA (4, 2-22).

In the Blue Jackets Cup league tournament, which held Feb. 18-21, the Warcats went 1-2, with the win coming against Athens 7-3 on Feb. 18.

Freshman forward Grant Dickinson (North) led the team in scoring with 42 goals and 21 assists. Senior forward Nicholas Orioli (North) had 26 goals and 21 assists, and junior defenseman Victor Runyon (South) had 14 goals and 12 assists.

Junior forward Evan Garber (North) added 10 goals and 14 assists.

Freshman goaltender Sean Coonfare, who attends Oakstone Academy, finished with an 18-13-4 record, a 3.18 goals-against average and an .878 save percentage.