Hockey: Dublin Jerome Celtics working for higher league finish

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Defenseman Sam Cho is one of 11 seniors for Jerome, which is looking to build on last season's 17-14-1-1 finish.

Even though the Dublin Jerome hockey team finished last in the five-team CHC-Red Division last season, it isn’t moving down a division to the CHC-White this winter. 

The Celtics understand they have some ground to make up after winning the division in 2018-19 before dropping to fifth last season, but that hasn’t caused them to adjust their goals. 

“If I’m being honest, we’re probably at the lower end of the Red Division right now,” coach Pat Murphy said. “I’d expect (Olentangy) Liberty to be strong. Upper Arlington lost a bunch of kids but they’re always strong. St. Charles is always good. We have high expectations and we expect to compete in the Red Division.” 

Olentangy Orange has joined defending champion UA, St. Charles, Liberty and 2020 district champion New Albany as well as the Celtics in the CHC-Red. 

The CHC has stopped league games through Dec. 17. 

After going 17-14-1-1 overall last winter, the Celtics return senior forwards Evan Halligan, Joel Kunzelman, Anthony DiPaolo and Landon Hale and senior defensemen Hayden Hale and Gavin Mlicki.  

Halligan finished with 18 goals and 10 assists, and DiPaolo had nine goals and 13 assists., Kunzelman posted 15 goals and six assists but isn’t expected to be available until late December. 

“Even with how different everything is this year, everyone is making the best of it and having a good attitude to the start of the season,” Mlicki said. “I know we’re all itching to play and to show everyone what Celtic hockey really is. Our hopes for the season are to be as united as we can and to give every team a run for their money.” 

Sophomore Abbey Gyruko and junior J.B. Russo will look to replace 2020 graduate Ryan Norkin in goal. 

Other seniors are Charles Besuelnick (defenseman), T.J. Boroff (defenseman), Sam Cho (defenseman), Danny Kaszubowski (forward) and Jack Ryan (forward). 

The roster also includes juniors Ryan Covitz (forward/defender), Patrick Duffy (forward), Alex Erickson (forward), Connor Murphy (defenseman/forward), Colin Norkin (forward), Jackson Pollina (forward) and Kade Williams (forward/defenseman) and sophomores Carter Brown (forward) and A.J. Lawler (forward). 

“We’re young, and we’re inexperienced,” Murphy said. “We’ve got 10 returning players, but we’ve also got 10 kids up from the (junior varsity). We’ve got a long way to go, but like always we’ve got a great group of players. The kids are good kids, good students and they work really hard and listen.” 

Forward/defenseman Bennett Obenour, left, is one of the top returnees for the Irish, who have only 10 players on the roster for first-year coach Zach Vallette.

Vallette takes over

as Scioto coach 

Scioto has a new coach after Zach Vallette replaced Morgan Langworthy, who stepped down after five seasons. 

Vallette, 26, is a 2013 graduate of Scioto where he played hockey. He was an assistant the past six seasons. 

Depth will be an issue for Scioto as there are only 10 players on the roster. 

“It’s a big concern,” Vallette said. “We’ve been conditioning a lot to get them ready. I told them it wasn’t punishment skating. We’ve been doing a lot of skating drills that help with that.” 

One of the top returnees is senior defenseman Nick Gould, who had 13 goals and 19 assists for 32 points last season. 

“We want to win as many games as we possibly can,” Gould said. “We’re out here just working for everything that we can do. Another team goal is to have everyone be above a 3.5 GPA. We did it last year. It’s simple team goals like that.”

Sophomore goalie John Jones, who was the starter last season, also has returned along with seniors Bennett Obenour (forward/defenseman) and Gavin Smith (forward), juniors Shane Hall (forward) and Ryan Wallace (forward) and sophomore Ricky Monzalvo (forward). 

“Our coaches are working on the conditioning with us, just trying to get us to be able to go the whole period,” Smith said. “We did the math and figured out how much ice time we have to get. We just have to get used to it.” 

Rounding out the roster are junior Ibrahim Miniato (forward), sophomore Alex Rath (forward/defenseman) and freshman Ian Waizmann (forward). 

“We’re mostly focusing on development right now,” Vallette said. “We’re not going to be winning a state championship. That’s not us. We’ve been focusing strictly on development, having fun and getting them better. Hopefully once out of high school they’ll continue to play.” 

Alex Schepflin, who is a 2016 graduate of Coffman where he played hockey, is an assistant coach. 

A key loss to graduation was forward Pete Hrelec, who last season led the team in scoring with 53 goals and 19 assists for 72 points. Hrelec set a state single-game record with 11 goals in a 15-4 win over DeSales in the first round of the Blue Jackets Cup consolation tournament. 

He was named first-team all-CHC-Blue. 

–Frank DiRenna 

Rocks look to build 

on strong ’20 finish 

Although it finished 10-19-2-1 overall, Coffman was seeded 14th for the district tournament and won two games, including beating fifth-seeded Jerome 5-1 in the second round. 

The Shamrocks then took eventual district champion New Albany to overtime before falling 4-3 in the next round. 

“This team is by all accounts better than what we saw last year, and we had a great finish to last year,” coach Jeff Kerr said. “Our kids started to believe in what we were talking about. When you put your effort in during practice, it showed in our games. And when we put in the effort in our games, it showed on the scoreboard.” 

Coffman should be led by senior forwards Ervin Cui, Thiago Jeronimo and Ben Schepflin, senior defenseman Gavin Schiefferle, junior forwards Noah Clemens and Nick Schepflin, junior defensemen Eliav Dayan and Brycen Levings and junior goaltender Will Pace. 

Matthew Jasniecki (forward) and David Shevetz (forward) are the other seniors, and the roster also includes juniors Sam Connelly (forward), Kyle Hendricks (forward), Cole Morris (defenseman), Owen North (forward) and Camden Willis (defenseman), sophomores Drew Beatty (forward), James Day (goaltender), Brady Hall (forward), Max Li (forward), Aiden Magyar (forward) and Braeden Murphy (forward) and freshmen William Feit (forward) and Joe Shevetz (forward). 

The only key players not back are 2020 graduates Evan Mitchell (defenseman), Bo Sung Kim (forward) and Cade Spiker (winger/center). 

The Shamrocks remain in the CHC-White after finishing seventh of eight teams last winter. 

“We only lost three seniors from last year, and we had enough players that we could do a practice squad,” Kerr said. “Hopefully that aids us going forward. We’re going to be very competitive in the (CHC)-White.” 

–Jarrod Ulrey 

sports@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekSports 

COFFMAN 

•Coach: Jeff Kerr, second season 

•Top players: Noah Clemens, Ervin Cui, Eliav Dayan, Thiago Jeronimo, Ben Schepflin, Nick Schepflin and Gavin Schiefferle 

•Key losses: Evan Mitchell, Bo Sung Kim and Cade Spiker 

•Last season: 10-19-2-1 overall 

•2019-20 CHC-White standings: Olentangy Orange (11-5), Olentangy Berlin (10-6), Cincinnati Moeller (9-5-1-1), Cincinnati St. Xavier (9-7), Thomas Worthington (7-7-1-1), Springboro (7-9), Coffman (5-9-2), Olentangy (5-10-0-1) 

Note: Joining Coffman in the CHC-White are Moeller, Olentangy Berlin, Springboro, St. Xavier and Thomas. 

•2020 postseason: Defeated Kettering Alter 3-0; def. Jerome 5-1; lost to New Albany 4-3 in overtime in third round of district tournament 

JEROME 

•Coach: Pat Murphy, 17th season 

•Top players: Anthony DiPaolo, Abbey Gyruko, Hayden Hale, Landon Hale, Evan Halligan, Joel Kunzelman, Gavin Mlicki and J.B. Russo 

•Key losses: Adam Booth, Matt Kish, Nolan Kunzelman, Avery Mlicki, Ryan Norkin and Nikolas Wagner 

•Last season: 17-14-1-1 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), Jerome (18, 8-6-1-1) 

Note: Olentangy Orange has moved to the CHC-Red. 

•2020 postseason: Lost to Coffman 5-1 in second round of district tournament 

SCIOTO 

•Coach: Zach Vallette, first season 

•Top players: Nick Gould, John Jones, Bennett Obenour and Gavin Smith 

•Key losses: Matthew Gast, Pete Hrelec and David Loew 

•Last season: 12-20 overall 

•2019-20 CHC-Blue standings: Columbus Academy (16, 7-7-1-1), Watterson (14, 7-9), Gahanna (10, 5-11), Scioto (4, 2-14), DeSales (0, 0-16) 

•2020 postseason: Def. Troy 8-7; lost to UA 16-0 in second round of district tournament