Since the season began, the Gahanna Lincoln High School hockey team had been working to overcome the graduation of their two leading scorers from last season.

Since the season began, the Gahanna Lincoln High School hockey team had been working to overcome the graduation of their two leading scorers from last season.

Although the Lions found ways to generate a decent amount of offense, they simply couldn't find the firepower last Saturday as Beavercreek beat them 3-1 in the second round of the district tournament. The Lions kept the puck in the Beavers' zone for most of the game but were unable to beat goalie Kyle McClure.

"We had plenty of opportunities, but we just didn't capitalize on them," coach Dante Scuderi said. "We outshot them, outplayed them, controlled the action in their end. It comes back to our worst nightmare from the beginning of the season of losing two guys who could put the puck in the net."

Gahanna finished 15-20 overall and went down in a postseason opener for the sixth consecutive season.

In the CHC, which expanded to 12 teams, Gahanna went 8-8 with 16 points to finish third in the Jackets Division behind Dublin Coffman (15-0-1, 31 points) and Worthington Kilbourne (8-8-0-1, 17) and ahead of St. Charles (7-9-0-1), DeSales (6-10, 12) and Olentangy Orange (2-14-0-1). In the Blue Jackets Cup, Gahanna went 1-2 and finished sixth, losing to St. Charles 4-2 in the fifth-place game Feb. 15.

Much like last season, when Gahanna fell to St. Charles 2-1 in the first round of the district tournament, a hot goaltender proved to be the difference in the postseason. McClure kept the Lions off the scoreboard until Drew Laurent scored with less than a minute remaining in the game, whereas the Beavers capitalized on the few scoring opportunities they had. They took a 1-0 lead 30 seconds into the second period on a short-handed breakaway goal by Matt Green, and they added two power play goals within 40 seconds late in the second period.

"This was a pretty typical performance (from McClure)," Beavercreek coach Sean Broderick said. "We give up a decent amount of shots, but most are from the outside, and he does a good job of controlling the rebounds."

Gahanna will lose four seniors. Forward Drew Laurent was a four-year letterwinner and one of the team's offensive weapons the past three seasons. Forward Steve Resch, a three-year letterwinner, was a physical presence. The Lions also will lose forwards Brad Stelmach and Matthew Brody.

"We lose some physical play out of Steve Resch, and we lose a little speed in Drew Laurent," Scuderi said. "He was one of the fastest players in central Ohio north-to-south."

Juniors Connor Smallwood, Nate Hays, Brad Tarbutton and John Mercurio have three years of varsity experience, as does junior goalie Phillip Wellmer. Wellmer and Josh Nemec have rotated as the starter for the past two seasons. Smallwood, Hays and Brad Tarbutton saw action at forward and defense, and Mercurio was a key contributor at forward this year.

Sophomore defender Alex Barok is a two-year letterwinner and should figure prominently on the team next season. Freshmen Dom Palombaro (defenseman) and Sean Moser (forward) saw significant action this season.

The Lions also expect to return junior Kyle Wetherill (defenseman), sophomores Andrew Winters (forward) and Quentin Holmes (forward) and freshman Ross Perry (defenseman).

At a glance

•Record: 15-20 overall, 8-8 with 16 points (third) in CHC-Jackets

•Seniors lost: Matthew Brody, Drew Laurent, Steve Resch and Brad Stelmach

•Key returnees: Alex Barok, Nate Hays, Josh Nemec, Connor Smallwood, Brad Tarbutton and Phillip Wellmer