The sting from its loss in the state tournament last winter resonated throughout the offseason for the Dublin Jerome High School hockey team.
With an opportunity to put a 6-1 loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius in a state semifinal behind them, the Celtics defeated the Wildcats 6-0 on Nov. 23 in the Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin to open the season.
They hope it's only the beginning of another season like last winter when they went 29-7-3 overall, won the eighth Blue Jackets Cup title in program history and went 15-1 to win the Capital Hockey Conference-Red Division.
"Everybody is hungry," said 15th-year coach Pat Murphy, who was named state Coach of the Year last season. "Everybody that was there last year when we didn't play so well against Ignatius hasn't forgotten about that. We've got good personnel. Whether or not we can jell as a team is something you're always concerned about, especially early in the season, but so far, so good."
Also in the Chiller Thanksgiving Classic, Jerome's lost 4-3 in a shootout to New Albany and beat Holmdel (New Jersey) St. John Vianney 3-2 in a shootout on Nov. 24 before beating Upper Arlington 4-2 on Nov. 25 to win its bracket in the event.
Of Jerome's 19 players, 11 were on the roster last season when it made the second state tournament appearance in program history.
The top returnees are senior forward Trent Belli, who had 23 goals and 30 assists and was honorable mention all-state last season, and senior defenseman Ryan Jenkins, who was second-team all-state.
Senior forwards Nick Augenstein, Dalton Miller, Evan Shea and J.P. Weaver also return.
Last season, Augenstein had 21 goals and 25 assists, Miller had 16 goals and 19 assists, Shea had 16 goals and nine assists and Weaver had 23 goals and 17 assists.
Seniors Vincent Comfort (defenseman), Ethan French (forward) and Jack Moses (defenseman) and juniors Adam Booth (forward) and Avery Mlicki (forward) also are key returnees.
Senior Mark Bishopp has joined the team after previously playing at the travel level and has taken over as the starting goaltender for Harrison Graff, a 2018 graduate who was second-team all-state last season. Junior Ryan Norkin is the backup goalie.
Also on the roster are juniors Matt Kish (forward) and Nolan Kunzelman (defenseman) and sophomores Hayden Hale (defenseman), Evan Halligan (defenseman), Joel Kunzelman (forward) and Gavin Mlicki (defenseman).
Graff, who went 24-4-3 last season, was among a 2018 graduating class that also included defenseman Nathan Kolenda and forwards Carter Patchett, Chris Posacki and Brian Wheeler. Patchett had 28 goals and 17 assists and was second-team all-state last season.
"The kids play hard and they work together," Murphy said. "The difference is we don't have as many players on our roster as we've had in the past, so we've got a shorter bench. I'm pretty happy with what we've seen so far."
Girls basketball team out to take next step
During Natalie Herring's first two seasons as coach, the girls basketball team used strong defense to stay competitive.
The Celtics, who finished 8-15 overall last season and tied Hilliard Bradley for third (7-5) in the OCC-Cardinal Division behind co-champions Scioto and Thomas Worthington (both 9-3), understand that improving offensively is the next step in their maturation.
"No. 1, we know our offense now," Herring said. "No. 2, I thought we played really good defense last year. We held teams to an average of about 42 points a game over the course of 23 games and we're really happy with that, but now we know we need to bring our offense up to meet the defensive game. We have to put the ball in the hole more and continue to play good defense and hopefully we'll get more (wins) than (losses)."
Jerome, which went 8-16 in Herring's first season, opened Nov. 27 at Hilliard Davidson. The Celtics begin league action Friday, Nov. 30, at Olentangy Berlin, a first-year program.
There are 23 players in Jerome's program overall, including seven freshmen and eight sophomores.
The Celtics will carry two seniors, four juniors and three sophomores on varsity, including seven players who were contributors a season ago.
Jamie Cline, a 5-foot-5 junior guard who scored 15 points in Jerome's 60-36 loss to Hartley in the second round of the Division I district tournament and made second-team all-league last season, is the top returnee.
The only seniors are Demi Brewer (5-4, guard) and Nicole Greiwe (5-11, post player).
Also returning are juniors Alie Intihar (5-11, post player), Brittany Sanders (5-10, forward) and Kendall Sestili (5-10, forward) and sophomore Amaris Lowery (5-10, guard/wing player).
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Darby Adams (post player) and Meredith Wheeler (guard).
"One through nine (on our roster), there is not a lot of variance," Herring said.
"We expect them all to touch the ball and shoot the ball and we expect to find whoever the hot hand is."
Athletes announce college decisions
Twelve student-athletes announced their college decisions Nov. 14.
In men's golf, Jackson Chandler committed to Ohio State and Mason Wagner signed with Xavier.
In women's soccer, Bailee Bowers will play for Akron, Claire Hollern will play for John Carroll, Sam Poptic will compete for Capital, Bronwen Sears will play for Miami University and Emma Sears will play for Ohio State.
Belli will play baseball for Ohio University, Brandon Infante will play men's lacrosse for Robert Morris and Gabby Rothermund will play women's lacrosse for Regis.
In women's volleyball, Lauren Gilbert will play for St. John Fisher and Kendall Poach will compete for Austin Peay.
Nov. 27 -- at Hilliard Davidson
*Nov. 30 -- at Olentangy Berlin
*Dec. 4 -- at Scioto
*Dec. 7 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
Dec. 11 -- vs. Westerville Central
*Dec. 14 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
*Dec. 21 -- at Hilliard Bradley
*Jan. 4 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
Jan. 5 -- vs. Logan
*Jan. 8 -- at Delaware
*Jan. 11 -- vs. Scioto
Jan. 15 -- vs. Westerville North
*Jan. 18 -- vs. Kilbourne
*Jan. 22 -- vs. Berlin
*Jan. 25 -- at Thomas
Jan. 29 -- at New Albany
*Feb. 1 -- at Darby
*Feb. 5 -- vs. Bradley
*Feb. 8 -- vs. Delaware
Nov. 23 -- Cleveland St. Ignatius in Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin
Nov. 24 -- New Albany and Holmdel (N.J.) St. John Vianney in Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin
Nov. 25 -- Upper Arlington in Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin
Nov. 30 -- Coffman in Adam Allgeyer Memorial at Chiller Dublin
Dec. 1 -- Newark Generals and Olentangy in Allgeyer Memorial at Chiller Dublin
Dec. 2 -- TBA in Allgeyer Memorial at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 7 -- Olentangy Orange at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 8 -- Cincinnati Moeller at Northland Ice Center
*Dec. 9 -- St. Charles at OhioHealth Ice Haus
*Dec. 16 -- New Albany at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 22 -- Springboro at Chiller Dublin
Dec. 26-28 -- TBA in Kent State tournament
*Jan. 2 -- Olentangy Liberty at Chiller Dublin
*Jan. 6 -- Moeller at Chiller Dublin
*Jan. 11 -- Coffman at Chiller Dublin
*Jan. 12 -- Liberty at Chiller North
*Jan. 13 -- Upper Arlington at Chiller Dublin
Jan. 18-20 -- TBA in Mark Rasmus Memorial Invitational at Tam-O-Shanter in Sylvania
*Jan. 25 -- UA at OhioHealth Ice Haus
*Jan. 26 -- Olentangy at Chiller Dublin
*Jan. 27 -- New Albany at Chiller Easton
*Feb. 1 -- Watterson at Chiller Dublin
*Feb. 3 -- St. Charles at Chiller Dublin
Feb. 7-10 -- Blue Jackets Cup
Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome boys basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
Dec. 1 -- Home vs. Newark
*Dec. 4 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
SWIMMING & DIVING
Nov. 30 -- Olentangy at Dublin Recreation Center
Dec. 1 -- Bad Apple Brawl at Mount Vernon