Senior leadership is the key to success for the Worthington Kilbourne High School hockey team, according to first-year coach Paul Roman.
Roman took over a team that finished 14-18-0-1 overall last season after losing to fifth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller 7-1 in the second round of the district tournament. The Wolves beat Kettering Alter 3-2 in double overtime in the first round.
"Our strength definitely has been our senior leadership," said Roman, who replaced five-year coach Tom Erlenbusch. "They really have done a good job for us in the preseason and we have played well in our scrimmages."
Returning seniors for the Wolves are defenseman Nick Marinelli (9 goals, 8 assists), forward Patrick Roman (team-leading 19 goals, 11 assists), forward Reid Sampson, center Austin Taylor (12, 7) and forward Nathan Walters (9, 18). Patrick Roman and Walters are captains and Marinelli and Taylor are alternate captains.
"We have been given the responsibility of being captains and we have to take charge of the players on and off the ice," said Patrick Roman, the coach's son. "We help plan practice drills and we have to be responsible for the players both in school and on the ice. We have to be more disciplined and conduct ourselves in a positive manner."
Kilbourne went 6-9-0-1 in the Capital Hockey Conference-Blue Division last season to finish second behind DeSales (9-6-0-1) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (2-14) and Watterson (0-14-0-2). Olentangy and Gahanna have joined the CHC-Blue and DeSales moved to the CHC-White.
The other top returning scorers are sophomore forward Mike Roman (14, 17), junior defenseman D.J. Freer (14, 9), junior center Scott Humes (8, 5) and sophomore defenseman Wes Hickman (5, 5).
Rounding out the roster are juniors Tucker Haas (defenseman), Ben Piecenski (forward) and Noah Veccia (defenseman), sophomores Ryan Agner (forward), Jacob Eymann (goaltender) and Kevin Schultz (forward) and freshman Tanner Taylor (defenseman).
"One of our strengths is our defensive zone play," Walters said. "We have to make sure we protect (Eymann) our first-year goalie."
The Wolves opened Nov. 23 by losing to Cincinnati St. Xavier 3-2 and Gahanna 6-5 in the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin. They defeated Oregon Clay 11-0 on Nov. 24 and beat Cincinnati Elder 6-3 on Nov. 25 in the Red Division fifth-place game.
"On and off of the ice, we're a tight-knit group and everyone gets along," Patrick Roman said. "We definitely have to work as a team to get the puck down the ice. We need to communicate and know where everyone is on the ice."