The Thomas Worthington High School hockey team enters one of its biggest weekends of the season as the host team for its annual MLK Tournament.
The 15-team event runs from Friday, Jan. 18, through Monday, Jan. 21, at Chiller North and Chiller Ice Works.
"We host it and our parents group does a good job of putting this on," coach Steve Otto said. "The kids really enjoy going out and playing and afterward the parents have food for us. Some of (the food) is donated by area businesses and some of it is cooked by the moms. It really is a family event for us."
Thomas is in the tournament's Red-East Division with Kettering Alter, Mentor and Olentangy and Kilbourne is in the Red-West Division with Springfield, Sylvania Southview and Troy.
The White-East Division consists of Findlay, Olentangy Liberty, Oxford Talawanda and Springboro and the White-West Division is comprised of Centerville, Olentangy Orange and Painesville Riverside.
The Cardinals are winless in the five games they've played in 2013. They lost to DeSales 5-1 on Jan. 4, tied Upper Arlington at 2 on Jan. 6, lost to Orange 3-1 on Jan. 11, lost to DeSales 4-3 on Jan. 12 and lost to Olentangy 6-3 on Jan. 13.
"We have hit a little bit of a lull, but we have had some good practice time," Otto said. "We have been having the midseason blahs sometimes, and we need to break it up a little and keep it fresh."
Junior forward Tommy Pischel leads the Cardinals in scoring with 24 goals and 14 assists in 19 games, followed by senior forward Will Byars (18 goals, 15 assists), senior defenseman Nicholas Highley (6 goals, 13 assists), senior forward Sam Bachmann (3 goals, 11 assists) and senior defenseman Brett McCarthy (5 goals, 6 assists).
Senior goaltender Jonathan Highley has a 3.00 goals-against average and an .895 save percentage and senior goalie Sean Lima has a 2.90 GAA and a .913 save percentage.
"Our goaltending has been very good," Otto said."Sean Lima and Jon Highley have been playing well for us."
The Cardinals are 8-10-1 overall and are fourth in the four-team Capital Hockey Conference-White Division at 3-8-1 (7 points), behind Orange (10-1, 20), St. Charles (7-3, 15) and DeSales (4-5-1-1, 10).
"We want to change up practice a little and run some different drills," Otto said. "It always can be a challenge to do that, but we need to keep it fresh."
The Cardinals defeated Kilbourne 3-2 on Dec. 29, as Byars, Pischel and junior forward Riley Mahoney scored and Highley had 24 saves.
Wolves continue to make strides
Kilbourne is 10-10 overall and is second (5-6, 10) in the five-team CHC-Blue Division, behind Gahanna (5-4-0-2, 12) and ahead of Watterson (3-8, 6), Olentangy (3-11, 6) and Dublin Scioto (0-12, 0).
"We have been playing well," coach Paul Roman said. "We have been building a team on the ice in practice. We have been doing the right things in practice.
"We're coming together as a team and we're teaching more than just hockey. They are coming together on the ice. It's a team thing. We focus on that and we teach them to do things the right way."
In the Dec. 29 loss to Thomas, senior forward Patrick Roman and junior defenseman Tucker Haas scored and sophomore goalie Jacob Eymann had 22 saves.
The Wolves lost to Gahanna 8-3 on Jan. 11 but defeated Scioto 10-0 on Jan. 12. Despite losing 4-1, coach Roman was happy with his team's performance Jan. 6 against Liberty, which was ranked eighth in the state poll and first in the district poll last week.
"I was proud of the way we played against a very good Liberty team," he said. "We have spent a lot of time working on our system and to play like we did against Liberty only shows the kids that we are going in the right direction."