With a month left in the regular season, Prowler Hockey Association coach Bob McElheney is enjoying something he never expects.
"We're pretty healthy. We're 20 men strong right now," McElheney said. "We've been pretty fortunate. You're always going to have your bumps and bruises along the way. Hockey is just a physical game. But on top of that, December was a relatively successful month for us, if for no other reason that we got some much needed rest. The schedule was pretty friendly that way, that we had some time between games and got to work on some things."
The Prowlers get a break from Ohio Scholastic Hockey League play this weekend when they travel to suburban Chicago for the CrossRoads Ice Hockey Tournament from Saturday, Jan. 18, through Monday, Jan. 20, at Darien Sportsplex in Darien, Illinois.
PHA fell to 5-20-4 overall and 4-7-3 (14 points) in the OSHL with a 5-0 loss to Dayton on Jan. 11 at Chiller North.
Tanner Sabau, from Pickerington North, leads the Prowlers with 16 goals, followed by Brandon Hux (Pickerington Central) with nine and Trevor Knoplesch (North) with seven.
Senior goaltender Cameron Bell (Reynoldsburg) and junior Drew Donahue (Grove City) have split time in net.
"(Defensemen) Sam Mills (Central) and Gianni Palombaro (Bloom-Carroll) have been strong for us defensively," McElheney said. "Our goaltending situation is fluid; we're confident with both of them there and it's more a case of who has the hot hand, what the matchup is and just the feel as to who plays."
The Prowlers will play four games in Illinois and return to OSHL competition Jan. 23 against Newark, which is first in the league (21, 10-0-1).
This will be PHA's second out-of-state trip of the season, as it played three games in Canton, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, in late October.
"If I had just 20 memories from making trips like this when I played, I don't think any of them would involve a score," McElheney said.
"It's about bonding with your buddies and having a good time."
Below is the coming schedule for the PHA club hockey team:
Jan. 18 -- Traverse City (Mich.) North Stars in CrossRoads Ice Hockey Tournament at Darien (Ill.) Sportsplex
Jan. 19 -- Franklin Park (Ill.) Nazareth North Stars and Springfield (Ill.) Spirit in CrossRoads Ice Hockey Tournament
Jan. 20 -- TBD in CrossRoads Ice Hockey Tournament