Hockey: Disciplined St. Charles Cardinals have high expectations
Discipline will play an important role in the success of the St. Charles hockey team.
The Cardinals believe attention to detail and staying out of the penalty box are keys to improving on last season's 24-10-3-1 overall record and second-place finish (24 points, 11-3-1-1) in the CHC-Red Division behind Upper Arlington (31, 15-0-1).
“The strength of the team is that we’re a really disciplined group,” ninth-year coach Rob Sangster said. “Everyone seems to be buying into the system and are really supportive of each other. They follow instruction really well and they play physical hockey without getting in the penalty box.”
Senior forward Diego Pitones was first-team all-CHC last winter after scoring 22 goals in league play. He said the Cardinals got better in the offseason.
“We have been able to get the puck deep and forecheck the crap out of teams (during scrimmages),” Pitones said. “We have had a consistent speed on all of the lines, so we have been good offensively. We have played great defense and have been able to go north-south a lot quicker.”
Pitones is expected to be the top scoring threat for St. Charles, with seniors Sam Carey, Niko Fallieras and Nate Polinsky, juniors Quinn Brady, Michael Datta, Dominic Evangelisti and Myles McKinney and sophomore Jules Samuel providing additional punch as forwards.
“Diego is a beast out there,” said Sangster, whose team is limited to practices until Dec. 18 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. “When the season starts and we need some goals, he can carry some big minutes when we need him. He hit the weights to get stronger and really did what he needed to do to improve.
“Nate Polinsky lit it up on j.v. last year and we hope he can do the same on varsity. Jules Samuel and Quinn Brady also were good scorers on j.v. They all have good shots and we want to get them to shoot as much as possible.”
The Cardinals have a veteran unit of defensemen led by seniors Alex Jimenez and Ryan Lewis and juniors Tristan Fahs, Sam Mickey and Erich Schoettmer.
"Ryan Lewis has shown a lot of leadership in the dressing room, and he has been getting the guys to talk on the ice,” Sangster said. “Tristan Fahs, Erich Schoettmer and Sam Mickey are pretty big guns, and I anticipate those guys having big years.”
Juniors Tyson Cooper and Grant Wolf will be in goal.
“Our defense and goaltending should be strong,” Sangster said. “Both Grant Wolf and Tyson Cooper have worked hard to get better. We had a real battle to make the team because all of our goalies worked hard in the offseason.
“We have good, healthy competition between the two goalies. They love playing hockey at St. Charles, and they have played at a high level coming into this season. We will depend on them if we are to make a run this year.”
•Coach: Rob Sangster, ninth season
•Top players: Diego Pitones, Tristan Fahs, Niko Fallieras, Alex Jimenez, Myles McKinney, Sam Mickey, Erich Schoettmer and Grant Wolf
•Key losses: Nick Currie, Nick Demers, Jack DeVita, Drew Dudas, Marco Giambrone, Joe Kanowsky, Niko Somos and Owen Zimmerman
•Last season: 24-10-3-1 overall
•2019-20 CHC-Red standings: Upper Arlington (31, 15-0-1), St. Charles (24, 11-3-1-1), Olentangy Liberty (23, 10-3-3), New Albany (21, 10-5-1), Dublin Jerome (18, 8-6-1-1)
•2020 postseason: Defeated Columbus Academy 8-3; lost to Olentangy Orange 4-1 in district quarterfinal