Don Harper saw great strides from his Thomas Worthington High School hockey team in his second season as coach, and he expects the improvement to continue next season.

Don Harper saw great strides from his Thomas Worthington High School hockey team in his second season as coach, and he expects the improvement to continue next season.

The Cardinals won eight more games this season, finishing 22-13-1 overall after losing to sixth-seeded Dublin Coffman 3-2 in the second round of the district tournament Feb. 19 at the OhioHealth Ice Haus, than a year ago when they finished 14-13-2.

"I think the biggest thing is that we had a lot of growth, a lot of personal maturity," said Harper, whose team defeated Beavercreek 11-1 in the first round of the district tournament Feb. 17. "It seemed like we had a lot more teamwork than individual play.

"Last year it was tough with new players and a new coach, but we were synced a lot better this year. Winning makes things more fun."

Thomas went 8-8-1 in the Capital Hockey Conference-White Division to finish third, behind Upper Arlington (14-2-1) and Olentangy Orange (13-4) and ahead of Olentangy (5-12) and Gahanna (2-15).

Junior forward Will Byars led the Cardinals in scoring, finishing with 32 goals and 37 assists. Sophomore forward Tommy Pischel was next with 28 goals and 25 assists, followed by senior defenseman Kyle Gratz with 22 goals and 22 assists and senior forward Harrison Cohan with 19 goals and 23 assists.

The Cardinals will lose five seniors in Cohan, Gratz, forward Jacob Brumfield, forward Graham Nadler (5 goals, 4 assists) and forward Andrew Wallace.

"We had a really cool senior class and they were all great kids who brought different things to the team," Harper said. "Graham Nadler had three injuries but never complained, and Harry Cohan was a great leader."

Expected to return are Byers, Pischel, juniors Sam Bachmann (forward), Nicholas Highley (defenseman) and Quintin Schomaker (defenseman), sophomores Kevin Hill (forward), Riley Mahoney (forward) and Liam Martin (defenseman) and freshmen Dominic Caminiti (forward) and Ryan Gratz (forward).

Bachmann had 11 goals and 16 assists, Highley had five goals and nine assists and Mahoney had five goals and six assists.

"We'll have guys like Will Byars and Tommy Pischel back and Sam Bachmann is a great leader and a good kid," Harper said. "Then you have two good freshmen like Dominic Caminiti and Ryan Gratz who will have another year under their belts. I don't see a weak link on the tam next year."

However, Harper won't be back as coach next season, as he resigned Feb. 27 because of shoulder-replacement surgery in the coming weeks.

"I had a rotator cuff injury from a mid-ice collision in practice in 2010 and after complications from surgery last year," said Harper, who is employed by Sims Bros. Inc, a metal recycling business based in Marion. "The rehab period won't be known until after the surgery and I just didn't think I could commit the time needed to run the program correctly. I thought the kids deserved someone who could give them the necessary commitment."

•Kilbourne finished 14-18-0-1 overall after losing to fifth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller 7-1 in the second round of the district tournament Feb. 19.

The Wolves beat Kettering Alter 3-2 in double overtime in a first-round game Feb. 17.

"We were down 2-0 (to Alter) when (junior defenseman) Austin Taylor scored and (freshman defenseman) Wes Hickman added a goal to send the game into overtime in the final minute," said coach Tom Erlenbusch, who completed his fifth season leading the program. "Then (sophomore defensemen) D.J. Freer won it for us in double overtime. It was a great game."

The Wolves made a marked improvement from last season, when they finished 6-21-1.

"Overall, we had a pretty successful season, especially considering that five of our losses were 2-1 and a couple more were in overtime," Erlenbusch said.

Kilbourne went 6-9-0-1 in the CHC-Blue to finish second, behind DeSales (9-6-0-1) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (2-14) and Watterson (0-14-0-2).

Junior forward Patrick Roman led the Wolves in scoring with 19 goals and 11 assists. Freshman forward Mike Roman was next with 14 goals and 17 assists, followed by Taylor (12 goals, 7 assists), junior forward Nathan Walters (9 goals, 18 assists), Freer (14 goals, 9 assists), junior defenseman Nick Marinelli (9 goals, 8 assists), sophomore forward Scott Humes (8 goals, 5 assists) and Hickman (5 goals, 5 assists).

The Wolves had three seniors in defenseman Perry Dilley (3 goals, 6 assists), forward Andrew Dowler (7 goals, 5 assists) and goaltender Joe Fischer (.884 save percentage).

"We had three really good seniors, especially Joe Fischer, who may have sacrificed more for Kilbourne hockey than any player in program history," Erlenbusch said. "He could have been a really good forward, but we needed a goalie and he spent three of his four years in goal."

Expected to return are Freer, Hickman, Humes, Marinelli, Mike Roman, Patrick Roman, Taylor, Walters, juniors Garren Erlenbusch (forward) and Davis Wolff (forward), sophomores Tucker Haas (forward), Ben Piecenski (forward), Reid Sampson (forward) and Noah Veccia (defenseman) and freshmen Mike Agner (forward), Jacob Eymann (defenseman/goalie) and Kevin Schultz (defenseman).

"We have 17 players coming back, but we have to find a dedicated goalie," coach Erlenbusch said. "Jacob Eymann is a defenseman, but he put on the pads and played goalie in a few games. He likes it and wants to work at it, but it's tough to do over a short period of time."