The Upper Arlington High School hockey team couldn't hide its youth and inexperience last season.

The Upper Arlington High School hockey team couldn't hide its youth and inexperience last season.

With only two seniors, the Golden Bears finished 6-30-1 overall, representing the most losses in the program's 32-year history and the fewest wins since they went 6-15-1 in the 1998-99 season.

All of UA's victories came in Capital Hockey Conference play, as it finished 6-9-1 (14 points) in the league and placed eighth, behind Dublin Coffman (31), Olentangy Liberty (30), Dublin Jerome (27), Olentangy (20), Worthington Kilbourne (17), Gahanna (16) and St. Charles (15) and ahead of DeSales (12), Thomas Worthington (10), Olentangy Orange (5) and Dublin Scioto (1).

The Bears ended the season with a 3-2 loss to eighth-seeded Cincinnati St. Xavier in the first round of the district tournament, marking the second year in a row in which they lost their tournament opener after making back-to-back appearances in a state semifinal.

"We're anticipating improving on that (overall) record," said 11th-year coach Jay Graham, whose team opens against Centerville in the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic on Friday at Chiller North. "We have lofty goals for ourselves. The record was misleading because we had one of the toughest schedules in the state. This year is no different, but we have a lot of experience returning at the varsity level.

"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves and say we're going to be much better because we won only six games last year. We tell the kids, 'That was a learning year. Now let's go out and build on that.'"

UA returns 18 letterwinners in seniors James Baugh (forward), Ethan Burton (forward), Drew Cook (goaltender), Andrew Daehn (forward), Carlin Guthrie (forward), Clay Hall (defenseman), Austin Oberlin (defenseman) and Trevor Setterlin (forward), juniors Matt Lewis (forward), Neil McKenzie (forward), Jack Sansbury (forward) and David Whalen (defenseman) and sophomores Matt Beebe (forward), Max Collins (forward), Spence Luallen (defenseman), Sam Stephensen (forward), Mitch Tulley (defenseman) and Evan Westfall (defenseman).

Also on the team are junior goalies Eric Spencley and Alex West and sophomore forward K.C. Kessler.

"Last year we were a really young team," Baugh said. "Last year a lot of guys were freshmen or sophomores and were new to varsity. We were learning the ropes last year, but this year we hope to play the way we can."

According to Graham, UA must be more productive offensively if it is to improve significantly from a year ago. Last season, the Bears scored 71 goals in 37 games, an average of only 1.9 goals per game, and were shut out 12 times.

Moreover, their leading scorer from a year ago, forward Reid Greiner, who scored 16 goals, graduated.

Baugh was second on the team in goals last season with 13 and was named honorable mention all-CHC. Only five other players -- Burton (eight), Sansbury (six), Lewis (five), Collins (four) and Daehn (four) -- scored more than three goals. Burton made honorable mention all-CHC last year.

"If we find people to put the puck in the net, we'll be a dangerous team," Graham said. "We'd like to score four goals each game. We want to give up less than three and score four. If we do that, we'll be in real good position."

UA returns its top six defensemen from a year ago in Hall, Luallen, Oberlin, Tulley, Westfall and Whalen as well as its starting goalie in Cook. Oberlin, Whalen and Cook all made honorable mention all-CHC last season.

"I think goaltending is the strong suit of our program," Graham said. "Drew is a top-flight goaltender in the state. There are not many teams where he wouldn't be the starter, including all the Cleveland teams. He's pretty special. He's very, very talented."

"Our goalie, Drew Cook, kept us in games last year," Baugh said. "We have to score more goals for him this year."

If that happens, UA could be a serious contender for the CHC championship. Watterson and Cincinnati Moeller have joined the league, bringing the total number of league members to 14. Each team will play 13 league games.

UA opens CHC play Dec. 4 against defending champion Coffman at the Dispatch Ice Haus.

"There are a lot of strong teams (in the CHC), like Coffman and Liberty, but I think (we) will be a contender," Baugh said.

Andrew Daehn, who scored four goals last season when Upper Arlington went 6-30-1, is one of 18 returning letterwinners for the Golden Bears.


At a glance

•Coach: Jay Graham, 11th season

•Opener: Friday vs. Centerville at Chiller North

•Key players: James Baugh, Ethan Burton, Drew Cook, Austin Oberlin and David Whalen

Schedule

Nov. 27 vs. Centerville at Midwest Thanksgiving Classic (Chiller North)

Nov. 28 vs. Toledo Central Catholic at Midwest Thanksgiving Classic (Chiller North)

Nov. 28 vs. St. Louis St. John Vianney at Midwest Thanksgiving Classic (Chiller North)

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

Dec. 3 vs. Crystal Lake (Ill.) Prairie Ridge (Nationwide Arena)

*Dec. 4 vs. Dublin Coffman (Dispatch Ice Haus)

*Dec. 5 vs. Dublin Scioto (Chiller Dublin)

*Dec. 6 vs. Dublin Jerome (Dispatch Ice Haus)

Dec. 11 at Toledo St. Francis

Dec. 12 vs. Troy (Chiller North)

Dec. 13 at Oxford Talawanda

Dec. 18 vs. Whitehouse Anthony Wayne at Tam-O-Shanter Invitational

Dec. 19 vs. Toledo St. Francis at Tam-O-Shanter Invitational

Dec. 19 vs. Perrysburg at Tam-O-Shanter Invitational

Dec. 20 vs. Gates Mills Gilmour Academy at Tam-O-Shanter Invitational

Dec. 26-29 at Pennsylvania Scholastic Showcase in Delmont, Pa.

*Jan. 2 vs. Olentangy Liberty (Dispatch Ice Haus)

*Jan. 8 vs. Worthington Kilbourne (Chiller North)

*Jan. 9 vs. Watterson (Chiller Easton)

*Jan. 10 vs. Thomas Worthington (Dispatch Ice Haus)

Jan. 15-18 at Strongsville Ehrnfelt Memorial Tournament

*Jan. 22 vs. St. Charles (Dispatch Ice Haus)

Jan. 23 vs. Olentangy Orange (Chiller Easton)

*Jan. 24 at Cincinnati Moeller

*Jan. 29 vs. Gahanna (Chiller Easton)

*Jan. 30 vs. Olentangy Orange (Dispatch Ice Haus)

Jan. 31 at Springboro

*Feb. 5 vs. DeSales (Dispatch Ice Haus)

*Feb. 6 vs. Olentangy (Chiller North)

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

*CHC game