With forwards Nick Schriner and Will Pischel and goaltender Jorge Bare leading the way, the Thomas Worthington High School hockey team is having a turnaround season.
The Cardinals are 13-7-3 overall after finishing 4-19 last season. With one league game remaining, they are in first place in the Capital Hockey Conference-Blue Division with an 8-3-2-1 record (19 points). Olentangy Berlin, which has two league games left, is second with 16 points (7-4-1-1).
Thomas concludes league play Sunday, Feb. 3, against Gahanna at Chiller North.
"We're a much better team overall than we were last year," Pischel said. "Jorge is playing so well in net that it gives us a chance every game. We've got a young defense, but they've really come along and they're playing well in front of Jorge. Once we started to play well defensively, especially late in games, we started winning those close games. That really helped our confidence."
The Cardinals also received a confidence boost by going 4-0 to win the Toledo Walleye Winterfest Tournament held Jan. 18-21. They defeated Whitehouse Anthony Wayne 4-2 in the championship game.
"We beat Anthony Wayne twice in that tournament and they beat (Cincinnati) Moeller, which plays above us in the (CHC-Red)," Schriner said. "We haven't brought home a tournament trophy since maybe 2012, so this is a great feeling.
"We have more numbers this year and we're able to run three lines, which we haven't been able to do in a while. I've always played with Will, but this year we're on different lines so that we can give balance on those lines. Everything is working out well."
Schriner leads the team in points (51) and goals (34). Pischel has 45 points with 27 goals and a team-high 18 assists. They are followed in points by Evan Kendall (24), Carson Smith (20), Sebastian Edvardsen (18) and Collin Stegemiller (16).
"We're getting great play in all aspects of the game and we've got a very good goalie in Jorge," coach Bill McGill said. "We're a young team that started out a little shaky in confidence and we've had a few nice winning streaks and really have turned the corner. They've learned how to win close ones.
"Jorge is really playing great and has had some huge saves at key times. He's turning away (breakaways) and controlling the puck and our main defensemen play almost the entire game and they've played well above expectations and now we're relying on them."
McGill said the defense has been led by senior Charlotte Kline, sophomore Carson Smith and freshman Alex Piero.
"Charlotte is one of maybe six or eight girls playing in central Ohio and she's a senior move-in from Wisconsin," McGill said. "She's a great addition and is just solid and very smart. What she may lack in size and strength, she more than makes up with her hockey mind."
Steele leads boys swimmers in OCC meet
Sam Steele won the 100-yard backstroke and placed second in the 200 individual medley to lead the boys swimming and diving team to a sixth-place finish in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet Jan. 26 at home.
Steele won the 100 back in 57.52 seconds and finished the 200 IM in 2:04.71, as the Cardinals totaled 122 points to finish behind Dublin Jerome (398), Delaware (183), Kilbourne (180.5), Hilliard Darby (169) and Berlin (145.5) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (79) and Hilliard Bradley (40).
Steele also teamed with Simeone Grant, Eli Short and Blake Ament to finish fourth in the 200 medley relay (1:46.36).
Also placing fourth was the 200 freestyle relay of Derek Taylor, Jacob Carver, Grant and Short (1:34.6). Short finished fifth in the 50 free (22.98) and sixth in the 100 free (52.19) and the 400 free relay of Ament, Carver, Steele and Taylor was fifth (3:40.08).
The girls team finished fifth (122) behind Jerome (282.5), Delaware (262), Kilbourne (212) and Berlin (181.5) and ahead of Bradley (101), Darby (72) and Scioto (70).
Maddie Holub placed third in the 200 IM (2:18.52) and Rachel Rinaldi was fourth in the 200 IM (2:19.34) and sixth in the 100 breaststroke (1:13) to lead the Cardinals.
The 200 medley relay of Holub, Rinaldi, Maia Lin and Audrey Taylor (2:00.4) and the 200 free relay of Katie Bozoti, Taylor, Rinaldi and Holub (1:48.07) both placed fifth, and Lin was sixth in the 100 butterfly (1:05.51).
"We didn't place much emphasis in the league meet because we wanted to keep everyone healthy and then taper for the sectional," coach Jim Callahan said. "I thought Thomas had a solid day and will use it as a steppingstone."
The Cardinals will compete in a Division I sectional Feb. 9 at home.
Girls basketball team remains in title chase
The girls basketball team missed a chance to move into a three-way tie for first place in the OCC-Cardinal on Jan. 25 when it lost at Delaware 57-48.
That same night, Darby beat Scioto 63-60 in overtime to forge a tie atop the league standings with the Irish.
Darby and Scioto both are 9-2 in the OCC-Cardinal and Thomas is 8-3. The Cardinals will play host to Berlin on Friday, Feb. 1, and the Irish on Tuesday, Feb. 5, before closing league play Feb. 8 at home against the Panthers.
Against Delaware, Breanne Beatty had a game-high 27 points and Sarah Charley scored 17.
Thomas defeated Jerome 49-40 in a league game Jan. 25 as Beatty had 22 points, Charley scored 11 and Haley Byrnes scored eight.
The Cardinals were 11-5 overall before playing New Albany on Jan. 30.
Boys basketball team falls to 4th in league
Last weekend was a rough one for the boys basketball team, as it lost to Jerome 65-47 in an OCC-Cardinal contest Jan. 25 and fell to Northland 62-61 the next day in the Jared Sullinger Ohio Scholastic Play by Play Classic at Pickerington Central.
After Northland's N'Keeley Elmore made one of two free throws with 2.3 seconds left to break a 61-all tie, the Cardinals were unable to get a shot off before the buzzer.
Jalen Sullinger, a nephew to Jared Sullinger, led Thomas with 26 points and Isaac Settles scored 25. Both are sophomores.
The Cardinals were 11-5 overall before playing New Albany on Jan. 29 and are 6-4 in the OCC-Cardinal entering a game at Berlin on Friday, Feb. 1.
The loss to Jerome dropped Thomas to fourth place in the league behind Bradley (10-0), Jerome (8-2) and Delaware (7-3).
Thomas began last week by defeating Delaware 70-56 on Jan. 22. Sullinger had 22 points, Settles scored 17 and Ben Wight added 11 for the Cardinals, who outscored the Pacers 36-17 in the first half.
Against Jerome, Sullinger had 21 points and Wight scored 16.
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 1 -- At Olentangy Berlin. The Cardinals beat the Bears 62-30 on Jan. 4.
*Feb. 5 -- At Dublin Scioto. The Cardinals beat the Irish 45-34 on Dec. 21.
*Feb. 1 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin. The Cardinals beat the Bears 62-30 on Jan. 4.
*Feb. 5 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto. The Cardinals beat the Irish 45-34 on Dec. 21.
Feb. 1 -- *Kilbourne and Worthington Christian at Capri Lanes
*Feb. 5 -- Hilliard Davidson at Ten Pin Lanes
*Feb. 6 -- Pickerington Central at Rule 3
Feb. 2 -- Win the Day Flip Festival at Cincinnati Anderson
Feb. 5 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman, *Dublin Jerome, *Dublin Scioto and Westerville Central
*Feb. 3 -- Gahanna at Chiller North
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 1 -- Home vs. Watterson and Kilbourne
Feb. 2 -- Division I, Region 5 team dual tournament at Marysville. The Cardinals are seeded 13th of 14 teams and will face fourth-seeded Delaware in a quarterfinal. The semifinal and final rounds also will be held that day, with the regional champion advancing to the state team tournament Feb. 10 at Ohio State's St. John Arena.