After a good season last year, the Olentangy Liberty High School hockey team leaves no doubt about its expectations for this season.

After a good season last year, the Olentangy Liberty High School hockey team leaves no doubt about its expectations for this season.

"We want to win our division if not the entire league of the Capital Hockey Conference," senior forward Doug Kouskouris said. "It's the word from the team -- we want to get better and prove something."

The Patriots are hoping to build on an inaugural season that featured a winning record and one playoff win. Liberty finished 16-13 overall a year ago, fourth in the CHC, and beat DeSales 3-2 in an overtime game that sent them to the second round of the district tournament. That team only had one senior, meaning this year's roster is full of familiar faces.

The strength begins at the forward position for the Patriots, as they dominated Whitehouse Anthony Wayne 14-3 in a scrimmage Nov. 14. Senior Alex Ottavio scored five goals. Kouskouris recorded his first winning goal of the season in a 4-3 decision at Findlay the next day.

"Everybody says preseason doesn't mean a lot, but you've got to play well against these teams," Kouskouris said. "We're picking up where we left off last season. Everybody's starting to move the puck well and the new guys are catching on."

Kouskouris and Ottavio headline a group of forwards that includes seniors Justin Garland, Eddie Nail and Kevin Reeves. Juniors Ben Saylor and Nick Zanetos, and sophomores Matt Mullierm, Jimmy Ruska and Brad Taber also pose a scoring threat.

The defensemen are young but improving. Juniors Logan Singleton and Joel Standley join sophomores Keaton Allmaras, Anthony Bergamesca, Robert Koehler and Grant Woods.

Junior Nick Kerr has been starting in goal but will compete with senior Brandon Rivington and freshman Bryan Finneran for playing time.

"Every guy that played last year has improved," coach Jack Hoogeveen said. "We had a lot of success last season, especially for a first-year team, and played as well as we could have in just about every game. If we do that again this year and compete every night, I think it will pay dividends."

Hoogeveen is a hockey enthusiast who has been involved in the game his entire life. He grew up in western Toronto and was a multiple letterwinner at Bowling Green before landing in Columbus for graduate school. He's hopeful that the amount of talent returning will translate into victories.

The Patriots open CHC play Dec. 19 against Dublin Jerome.

"Our players have all shown great strides and I give a lot of credit to my development coach Nick Kormanyos," Hoogeveen said. "We really rely on him a lot for fundamentals, and he's played a big part in our learning and developing."