For the third consecutive season, the St. Charles Preparatory School hockey team has undergone a coaching change.

For the third consecutive season, the St. Charles Preparatory School hockey team has undergone a coaching change.

Troy Appleby takes over from Ray Aho, who stepped down after one season to move to Phoenix for a full-time job. Aho's predecessor, Dale Jordan, also held the position for just one season, resigning after the 2006-07 season to become assistant program coordinator of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets.

For senior defenseman and captain Nicholas Knudson, Appleby is his fourth coach in as many seasons.

"I've gone through four different coaches and each coaching style is a little different," Knudson said. "For me, it's taking the best of each coach and applying that. (Appleby) is a good coach, but I've got to take what I learned from my other coaches and put it all together."

Appleby, a first-year head coach who has worked extensively as an assistant with travel teams, describes himself as a disciplinarian and acknowledges that his coaching style is a stark contrast to that of his predecessor. He is being assisted by Bob Gallagher, a longtime travel team coach.

"Ray Aho was a players' coach, which basically means he was a lot friendlier with the kids," said Appleby, whose team opens against Saint Charles (Mo.) Duchesne on Friday in the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller North. "It was a lot looser last year. We're more structured this year, more disciplined. It's definitely a different style of coaching than what they had last year. We're on them a little bit more and they didn't like us at the start. There definitely was a period of adjustment."

The Cardinals finished 20-12-2 overall a year ago, matching the program record for victories in a season since gaining varsity status before the 1999-2000 season. They also matched their deepest run in the district tournament, beating ninth-seeded Gahanna 2-1 in the first round and third-seeded Dublin Jerome 3-2 in overtime in a district quarterfinal as the sixth seed.

They then fell to fourth-seeded Cincinnati Sycamore 4-2 in a district semifinal.

St. Charles went 10-2-1 with 21 points in the Capital Hockey Conference to place second to Dublin Coffman (11-2, 22) and ahead of Jerome (10-3, 20), Olentangy Liberty (8-5, 16), Gahanna (7-5-0-1, 15), Upper Arlington (7-6, 14), Thomas Worthington (6-6-0-1, 13), Worthington Kilbourne (4-9, 8), DeSales (1-10-1-1, 4) and Dublin Scioto (0-13, 0).

Olentangy and Olentangy Orange have joined the CHC.

The Cardinals return seven letterwinners in seniors Andrew Archambeau (forward), Nicholas Knudson (defenseman) and Quinton Robinson (defenseman), juniors Charles Lacasse (forward), Joe Sweeney (defenseman) and Paul Weisenbach (defenseman) and sophomore Mark Schirtzinger (forward).

Also on the team are senior Jeff Schirtzinger (forward), juniors Vince D'Antonio (forward), Chris Jeric (forward), Matthew Larkin (defenseman/forward), Connor Lenhart (goalie), Brian Lewis (defenseman) and Isaac Oyer (defenseman), sophomores Alex Bowman (defenseman), Tyler Brady (forward) and Connor Organ (forward) and freshman Jack DeVore (goalie).

"We're a relatively young team," Appleby said. "We're just looking to start strong and finish strong."

"Unfortunately, I think our team is a little below last year's level, but that doesn't mean we don't have the potential to do a lot of good things," Knudson said.

Lacasse led the team in goals (19) and points (37) and tied for second in assists (18) last season and made honorable mention all-league. He is expected to play on the top forward line with Sweeney and Mark Schirtzinger.

"He's got great talent," Appleby said. "He's probably our most talented player. He's got unbelievable skill."

Lacasse knows that the team is counting on his offense.

"I'm going to try to do the same thing I did last year and score as many goals as I can and be a team player," he said. "I'm feeling a little bit more pressure, but I'm feeling more confident and I feel that I'm progressing each year."

Knudson played forward last season but was moved to defense out of necessity.

"We needed another defenseman," Appleby said. "The first (scrimmage) there was a little transition period for him, but he's picked it up well. He played defense when he was younger, so it wasn't hard for him to go back to playing defense again."

St. Charles will play both Mishawaka (Ind.) Marian and Athens on Saturday at Chiller North as part of the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic. The Cardinals open league play Dec. 19 against Olentangy at Chiller North.