The Hilliard club hockey team approached the midway point of the season looking to overcome a slow start.

The Hilliard club hockey team approached the midway point of the season looking to overcome a slow start.

The Wildcats are 4-10 overall and 2-6 in the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League entering a game against the Dayton Stealth on Friday, Dec. 2, at Chiller North.

Hilliard's league wins have come against Northeast (4-2 on Oct. 22) and Athens (6-2 on Nov. 4).

"We're struggling right now," sixth-year coach Wade Bartley said. "We've been in some tight games, we're just having trouble scoring some goals, but we're a good hockey team. We're just young, learning."

Last season, Hilliard hovered near the .500 mark for most of the season before finishing 29-24-2 overall and 11-11-2 (24 points) in the GCHSCHL to place fifth behind Newark (30, 19-3-2), Dayton (37, 17-4-3), Westerville (29, 13-8-3) and Northeast (28, 13-9-2) and ahead of Athens (6, 3-21) and PHA (4, 2-22).

The Wildcats finished third in the state tournament, known as the Buckeye Cup, for the second consecutive year.

Hilliard is seeking its 10th consecutive state tournament appearance.

Among the key returnees are senior forward Justin Fugitt (Darby), who has 12 goals and six assists after finishing with a team-high 22 goals last season, and junior forward Ty Spangler (Darby), who also has 12 goals and six assists after finishing with a team-high 40 points last season.

Senior forward Mason Moldovan (Darby) has four goals and six assists.

Senior forward J.T. Seitz (Wellington) is team captain and junior forward Mitchell Gillespie (Darby) and junior defenseman Jonathan Robinson (Davidson) are alternate captains.

Juniors Tyler Moore (Central Crossing) and Jesse Walz (Davidson) have shared time in goal.

Walz is 3-8 with a 4.52 goals-against average and Moore is 2-6 with a 4.83 GAA.

"We can turn this (season) around," Walz said. "We have a great, skilled team. We have a great foundation, great depth to our team. We just need to keep working hard in practices and we'll get there."

Other seniors are defensemen Cameron Fox (Grove City) and Jacob Lombardi (Jonathan Alder) and forward Chris LaMendola (Davidson).

Also on the team are juniors Austin Fomby (defenseman, Metro Early College), Jacob Humphreys (forward, Bradley), Colin Mayr (forward, Davidson) and Max Wenerstrom (defenseman, home-schooled) and sophomores Peter Burback (forward, Davidson), Julian Carr (defenseman, Central Crossing), Kyle Heidtman (defenseman, Bradley), Issac Lee (forward, Jonathan Alder), Trevor Seitz (forward, Wellington) and Matthew Spangler (forward, Darby).

"We've put ourselves in the back of the pack (in the GCHSCHL) right now, so we have to play to our potential," Bartley said. "We're a more rounded team than we've had in the past. Everybody is looking for the next guy to step up, but they have to take some leadership and responsibility and grab the reins."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedule

*Oct. 21 -- Westerville at OhioHealth Ice Haus

*Oct. 22 -- Northeast at Chiller Dublin

*Oct. 28 -- Pickerington at Chiller Dublin

*Oct. 29 -- Dayton at Chiller North

*Nov. 4 -- Athens at Chiller Dublin

*Nov. 6 -- Dayton at National Trail Parks and Recreation Chiller

Nov. 11 -- Dublin Coffman at Chiller Dublin

Nov. 13 -- St. Charles at OhioHealth Ice Haus

*Nov. 18 -- Westerville at Chiller North

*Nov. 19 -- Northeast at Chiller Dublin

Nov. 25 -- Cleveland Heights in Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller North

Nov. 26 -- Gahanna and Northeast in Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller North

Nov. 27 -- Cleveland Heights in Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller North

*Dec. 2 -- Dayton at Chiller North

*Dec. 3 -- Athens at Chiller Ice Works

*Dec. 4 -- Newark at Fairgrounds Coliseum

*Dec. 17 -- Westerville at Chiller Dublin

*Dec. 18 -- Pickerington at Chiller Easton

*Jan. 5 -- Newark at Lou & Gib Reese Ice Arena

*Jan. 6 -- Westerville at Chiller Ice Works

*Jan. 20 -- Athens at Bird Arena

*Jan. 21 -- Northeast at Chiller North

*Jan. 26 -- Newark at Lou & Gib Reese Ice Arena

*Jan. 28 -- Athens at Bird Arena

*Jan. 29 -- Pickerington at Chiller Ice Works

*Feb. 4 -- Newark at Chiller Ice Works

*Feb. 5 -- Dayton at South Metro Ice Haus

*Feb. 10 -- Pickerington at Chiller North

*Feb. 11 -- Northeast at Chiller Dublin

*League contest