The St. Charles Preparatory School hockey team finds itself in an unfamiliar situation.
The Cardinals ended 2017 by losing six consecutive games and seven of eight contests, but they were hoping a 2-1 overtime win over Capital Hockey Conference-Red Division rival Upper Arlington on Jan. 5 would ignite their offense.
St. Charles, which has won four consecutive CHC divisional titles, lost to Dublin Jerome 4-2 on Jan. 7 to drop to 11-8-0-1 overall and 7-1-0-1 in the CHC-Red. The Cardinals lost nine games last season (28-9-1), five in 2016 (32-5) and four in 2015 (34-4-2).
Against UA, senior forward Will Hoag passed from behind the net to sophomore forward Owen Zimmerman for the winning goal with 4 minutes, 31 seconds left in overtime.
"I was trying to get the goalie moving and try to make it look like a wrap-around or something," Hoag said. "Zimmerman got the puck to me and I saw him coming to the net so I thought I would get him a pass back-door.
"We're not used to losing and people expect us to win. Now I don't think people will see us coming and think that we're nothing special, so we want to show what we can do."
The victory avenged a 3-2 loss to the Golden Bears on the final day of the Parma Padua Holiday Tournament on Dec. 17. The Cardinals defeated UA 3-0 on Nov. 25 in the Chiller Thanksgiving Classic.
"We were kind of in a slide and hadn't won too many games in the last couple weekends so we needed this one," Zimmerman said. "I think we need to crash the net and take advantage of all of our chances. Good things happen when you go to the net and we need to bear down."
Hoag said one of the problems has been younger players learning to acclimate to the varsity game. He started as a sophomore and felt pressure to do too much too soon.
"We have to believe in ourselves," he said. "We have a very young team and a lot of us are scared. I know I was scared when I started playing varsity. In my first couple years I was pretty nervous to mess up and a lot of the guys are playing like that right now. They need to trust themselves.
"In the past (the younger players) have seen us lose and really losing isn't a big deal if you learn from it. If you make a mistake and give up a goal, you need to get back up and learn from it."
Coach Rob Sangster said the Cardinals have been tested by a challenging schedule that has included losses to perennial state powers Cleveland St. Ignatius (2-1 on Dec. 15), Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit (4-3 on Dec. 27), Lakewood St. Edward (5-2 on Dec. 16) and Sylvania Northview (4-2 on Dec. 26).
"We're not as deep as we have been in the last couple years, but the kids are still working hard to get better," Sangster said. "We need to put more pucks in the net and go to the net with our sticks on the ice. You score more goals by going hard to the net."
Basketball team looks for first CCL victory
After winning three consecutive CCL championships, the basketball team will be looking for its first league victory of the season when it plays Friday, Jan. 12, at home against DeSales.
The Cardinals are 4-7 overall and tied with the Stallions for fourth in the CCL at 0-3. Ready leads at 3-0, followed by Hartley (3-1) and Watterson (2-1).
Last season, St. Charles swept DeSales 43-36 and 52-46.
St. Charles lost to Hartley 49-41 on Jan. 5 as George Javitch scored 12 points on four 3-pointers and Alec Lohiser added 10 points.
The Cardinals defeated Cincinnati College Prep 86-58 on Dec. 27 led by Eli Burkey's 14 points. Grant Tiefenthaler had 11 points and Connor Carretta added 10.
Wrestling team preps for Catholic Invite
The wrestling team will compete in the Catholic Invitational Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 13, and Sunday, Jan. 14, at St. Ignatius.
Last season, Ian Noonan led the Cardinals in the CIT at Otterbein by placing third at 126 pounds, and St. Charles was 11th (35 points) of 12 teams in the big-school division behind champion Cincinnati Elder (297.5).
The Cardinals finished 22nd (45) in the 32-team Marion Harding Classic on Dec. 29 and 30 behind champion Dublin Scioto (166).
Kenton Colvin was runner-up at 126 and Jacob Waltermeyer placed fifth at 220.
Below are the coming schedules for the St. Charles basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 12 -- Home vs. DeSales
*Jan. 11 -- Eastmoor Academy at Eastland Lanes
*Jan. 16 -- Linden-McKinley at HP Lanes
Jan. 13 -- Crescent Springs (Ky.) Northern Kentucky Norse and Dayton Stealth in Hignite Memorial Cup at Kettering Ice Arena
Jan. 14 -- Nashville (Tenn.) Flyers in Hignite Memorial Cup at Chiller Springfield
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 13 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
Jan. 13-14 -- Catholic Invitational Tournament at Cleveland St. Ignatius