After a 4-3 loss to Dublin Coffman on Jan. 9, the Olentangy Liberty High School hockey team did some quick math and set a lofty goal.

After a 4-3 loss to Dublin Coffman on Jan. 9, the Olentangy Liberty High School hockey team did some quick math and set a lofty goal.

Assistant Nick Kormanyos added up the Patriots' CHC games remaining and wrote the number -- nine -- on a large whiteboard in the locker room.

That number is now four, and Liberty hasn't lost a league game in three weeks.

"It sounds clich, but we really wanted to finish the regular season 9-0 and we felt the best way to do that was to take things one game at a time, one period at a time," said Doug Kouskouris, who scored three goals in a 3-0 win over Olentangy last Sunday. "That sign has given us a chance to block all the distractions out and focus on winning and playing as a team."

Even with a 9-0 finish, the Patriots do not control their own destiny in the CHC. That distinction belongs to Coffman, as the Shamrocks have 21 points to Liberty's 20 and will close league play with St. Charles, Thomas Worthington, Worthington Kilbourne and Orange, four teams with a combined 12 wins.

"We need a little help from someone to beat Coffman or take a point away from them," coach Jack Hoogeveen said. "Coming into the season we wanted to win our division and put ourselves in a position to win the conference. The goal has been clear and still is clear for us -- to finish 9-0, and now we've got just four to go."

Kouskouris leads the attack with nine goals and 20 assists in league play. Senior Alex Ottavio has 22 points and classmate Justin Garland has 14. The depth of the younger players has emerged during the winning streak. Sophomore Jimmy Ruska scored two goals in a 6-2 win over Dublin Jerome last Saturday, classmate Brad Taber has 18 points and defenseman Robert Koehler has the best plus-minus on the team.

"I feel like our more experienced guys have helped out and worked with the younger guys, and they've given us a huge advantage," Kouskouris said. "Right now, it's all about coming out strong and concentrating on playing as a team. If we do that, we're going to be tough to beat."

•Olentangy has surpassed all expectations in its first season at the varsity level.

The Braves started 7-3 and had 14 points in their first 10 games, good enough for fourth place in the league. Still, players and coach Mazin Habash are eager to take the next step.

"We compete every night, even though we're new," sophomore Connor Laughlin said. "We just need to work on the essentials and play as a team. It just takes some experience playing together for us to really play as a team."

The Braves got three goals from Kyle Hickman in a 6-5 overtime win over Thomas Worthington last Saturday, but took a step back with the loss to Liberty, a game in which they were heavily outshot. It was just the second time Olentangy, which averages more than five goals per game, had been shut out this season.

"Anytime a first-year program is above .500 I think is quite an accomplishment," Habash said. "From the very start we set a bar of where we wanted to be, first year or not. Of course we want to compete at the top of the league every night, but when you've got a bunch of guys that haven't played together before, it takes time to beat teams that have been there before."

•Orange knocked off Dublin Scioto 6-4 last Saturday for its second league win of the season. It was a bright spot in what has been a difficult inaugural season for the Pioneers, who have five points and are 11th in the CHC.

The youth of Orange is still their biggest hurdle. With eight freshman, eight sophomores and two juniors on the roster, coach Tim Pennington is developing his players, even though it may not be reflected in the standings.

"Just looking out there, you've got guys on the other side who look like they can grow full beards on the other team and we've got guys who haven't started shaving," Pennington said, laughing. "There's no substitute for age and experience."

Matt Pennington recorded the program's first three-goal game against Scioto. Goaltenders Evan Maldonado and Alex Victor have shared time in net, and both have save percentages better than .850.

"Not only is it a first-year program, but you've got kids that haven't played together at all," Pennington said. The good news is, these kids will grow together and we'll be better for it in the next couple years."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Liberty, Olentangy and Orange hockey teams:


*Last Friday -- Defeated Thomas Worthington 4-1

*Last Saturday -- Def. Dublin Jerome 6-2

*Sunday -- Def. Olentangy 3-0

*Saturday -- At Chiller North vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*Sunday -- At Chiller North vs. Dublin Scioto

Of note: The Patriots are 10-1 in the CHC.


*Last Friday -- Lost to Jerome 6-2

*Last Saturday -- Def. Thomas 6-5 (OT)

*Sunday -- Lost to Liberty 3-0

*Friday -- At Chiller North vs. Orange

*Saturday -- At Chiller at Easton vs. DeSales

*Sunday -- At Chiller North vs. Gahanna

Of note: The Braves are 7-3 in the CHC.


*Last Friday -- Lost to St. Charles 4-1

*Last Saturday -- Def. Scioto 6-4

*Sunday -- Lost to Upper Arlington 5-2

*Friday -- At Chiller North vs. Olentangy

*Saturday -- At Chiller at Easton vs. Gahanna

Of note: The Pioneers are 2-8-0-1 in the CHC.

*CHC game