Lacking depth at forward, Dublin Jerome High School hockey coach Pat Murphy had to rely heavily on his top forward line of graduate Justin Young, senior Kurt von Zychlin and junior Jake Howell for offense last season.

Lacking depth at forward, Dublin Jerome High School hockey coach Pat Murphy had to rely heavily on his top forward line of graduate Justin Young, senior Kurt von Zychlin and junior Jake Howell for offense last season.

With the improvement of several returnees and the addition of seven players, Murphy believes the Celtics will have a more balanced on offense this season.

Jerome finished 23-11-1 overall last season, losing to Centerville 5-4 in double overtime in a district quarterfinal. The Celtics defeated Cincinnati St. Xavier 3-2 in double overtime in the second round of the tournament after having a first-round bye.

"We had to rely heavily on one line to do most of our scoring last year, but I don't believe in being a one- or two-line hockey team," said Murphy, whose team opens against Burlington (Ontario, Canada) Corpus Christi at the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic on Friday at Chiller Dublin. "We're now deeper than we've ever been, though. I feel like we've got three lines that should contribute equally, offensively, and four lines that will contribute to our success. If we can have four lines producing, that should make us more dangerous."

Playing forward are von Zychlin, Howell, seniors Matt Adolph, Brett Carney and Joey Nahay, juniors Blair Comfort, Nick Simonetti and Casey Worth, sophomores Matt Burke, Joe Davison and Matt Walters and freshmen Alex Cathis and James Eastep.

Last season, von Zychlin (20 goals, 24 assists, plus-34) was second-team all-CHC. Howell (14 goals, 25 assists, plus-24), Nahay (18 goals, 14 assists) and Worth (8 goals, 9 assists) also were among the scoring leaders.

Expected to split time in goal are juniors Cameron Gutman and Josh Howell and sophomore Wes Faulkenberry. Howell made most of the starts last season and was second-team all-league.

Playing defense are seniors Adam DePerro, Anthony Lelli, Jeff Olson and Logan Taylor, and juniors Derek Denti, Rohan Dudaney and Michael Parente. DePerro (7 goals, 10 assists, plus-17) was honorable mention all-CHC each of the past two seasons.

"Our goaltending is excellent," Murphy said. "I would put our two returning goaltenders (Howell and Faulkenberry) up against any other goalies in the state. Five of our defensemen are veteran guys, so I feel really confident there, too."

Jerome went 13-2-1 (27 points) in the CHC last season to finish third in the overall standings, behind Coffman (15-0-1, 31) and Olentangy Liberty (15-1, 30) and ahead of Olentangy (10-6, 20), Worthington Kilbourne (8-7-0-1, 17), Gahanna (8-8, 16), St. Charles (7-8-0-1, 15), DeSales (6-10, 12), Upper Arlington (6-8-1-1, 12), Thomas Worthington (4-10-1-1, 10), Olentangy Orange (2-13-0-1, 5) and Scioto (0-15-0-1, 1).

Watterson and Cincinnati Moeller have joined the CHC, bringing the league total to 14 teams. Each team plays each opponent once in league play for a total of 13 league contests.

The Celtics open league play against Scioto on Dec. 4.

Jerome also finished third in the Blue Jackets Cup last season, ending its three-year streak as champion. The Celtics opened the tournament with a 3-1 win over Gahanna and then lost to Coffman 4-0 before defeating Kilbourne 4-3 in the consolation final.

"Our goals are the same as they always are, and that's to win the Blue Jackets Cup and advance further in the state tournament than we did the year before," Murphy said. "We look good on paper, but it's hard to say how realistic those goals are, because there are a lot of factors -- illnesses, injuries, academic trouble -- that can hurt you. If we can avoid those problems and keep getting better, then we should do well."

At a glance

•Coach: Pat Murphy, sixth season

•Opener: Friday vs. Burlington (Ontario, Canada) Corpus Christi at Dublin Chiller

•Key players: Adam DePerro, Jake Howell, Josh Howell, Joey Nahay and Kurt von Zychlin

Schedule

Nov. 27 vs. Burlington (Ontario, Canada) Corpus Christi at Midwest Thanksgiving Classic (Chiller Dublin)

Nov. 28 vs. Mentor Lake Catholic and Gahanna at Midwest Thanksgiving Classic (Chiller Dublin)

Nov. 29 vs. TBD at Midwest Thanksgiving Classic (Chiller Dublin)

*Dec. 4 vs. Scioto (Chiller Dublin)

*Dec. 5 vs. Coffman (Chiller Dublin)

*Dec. 6 vs. Upper Arlington (Dispatch Ice Haus)

Dec. 10-12 at Adam Allgeyer Tournament (Chiller Dublin)

*Jan 1 vs. St. Charles (Dispatch Ice Haus)

Jan. 2 vs. Troy (Hobart Arena)

*Jan. 3 vs. Thomas Worthington (Chiller North)

*Jan. 8 vs. Olentangy Liberty (Chiller Dublin)

*Jan. 9 vs. DeSales (Chiller Easton)

Jan. 16-18 at MLK Tournament (Chiller North)

*Jan. 22 vs. Watterson (Chiller Easton)

*Jan. 24 vs. Olentangy (Chiller Dublin)

*Jan. 29 vs. Olentangy Orange (Chiller Dublin)

*Jan. 30 vs. Cincinnati Moeller (Chiller Dublin)

*Feb. 5 vs. Worthington Kilbourne (Chiller Dublin)

*Feb. 6 vs. Gahanna (Chiller Easton)

Feb. 7 vs. PRPC (Chiller Ice Works)

Feb. 12-14 at Blue Jackets Cup (Dispatch Ice Haus)

*CHC game