Hockey: Hilliard Wildcats enjoyed run to Buckeye Cup state semifinal
The Hilliard club hockey team again enjoyed success, highlighted by reaching a semifinal of the 12-team Buckeye Cup state tournament under first-year coach Jake Trask.
Competing in their 13th consecutive state tournament, the fourth-seeded Wildcats went 3-0 in pool play before losing to second-seeded Medina 5-2 in a semifinal Feb. 28 at Chiller North.
Top-seeded Dayton, an Ohio Scholastic Hockey League rival, beat Medina 5-1 in the title game later that day.
“It was a good season,” said senior center Jaxson Gillespie, who attends Darby. “We actually thought last year’s team was a little bit better, but obviously we didn’t get to the state semifinals last year, so it was a really big deal for us to get to the state semifinals this year.”
Hilliard went 10-4 with 20 points in the OSHL to finish second behind Dayton (28, 14-0).
The Wildcats closed the season by going 1-3 in the Big Bear Ice Warrior Tournament on March 5-7 in Indianapolis to finish 24-17-2 overall.
“I had a lot of fun,” Trask said. “It was a little different working with younger guys. It’s been a really good group, which has made my job a lot easier.”
Hilliard, which won the Blue Jackets Cup league tournament last season, reached the final this year but lost to Dayton 6-2 on Feb. 14.
“I’m proud of this group,” Trask said. “From (the) CBJ Cup on, we really came together as a group. I’m really proud of them and all the hard work they put in.”
Senior forward James Schwinne III (Central Crossing) led the Wildcats in scoring with 30 goals and 30 assists.
Senior forward Sammy Delio (Davidson) had 20 goals and 21 assists, and senior center Jesse Stevens (Grove City) had 21 goals and 18 assists.
Junior defenseman A.J. Sawicki (Darby) had four goals and 23 assists, senior forward Cameron DeForest (Bradley) had 18 goals and eight assists and junior forward Owen Ambrozy (Davidson) had 10 goals and 16 assists.
Sophomore goalie Mason Sines (Fairbanks) went 21-11-2 with a 3.73 goals-against average and an .882 save percentage.
Others eligible to return are juniors Hayden Clingman (defenseman, Bradley), Alex Kerr (forward, Jonathan Alder), Ben Morgan (center, Davidson), Will Morgan (forward, Davidson), Rob Slivon (center, Davidson) and Dmitri Williams (defenseman, Metro Early College).
Also eligible to return are sophomores Tim Elmer II (defenseman, Davidson), Christian Sohner (defenseman, Davidson), Luke Starr (defenseman, Davidson) and Gavin Williams (goalie, Bradley) and freshmen Dominic DelBoccio (forward, Bradley) and James Tarantine (defenseman, Davidson).
•Record: 24-17-2 overall
•OSHL standings: Dayton (28, 14-0), Hilliard (20, 10-4), Newark (15, 8-5-2), Northeast and Westerville (9, 4-8-1), PHA (0, 0-15)
•Seniors lost: Cameron DeForest, Sammy Delio, Jaxson Gillespie, A.J. Lightfoot, Jared Pallay, James Schwinne III and Jesse Stevens
•Key returnees: Owen Ambrozy, A.J. Sawicki and Mason Sines
•Postseason: Defeated Westerville 7-1; def. Miami 6-1; def. North Royalton 6-3; lost to Medina 5-2 in Buckeye Cup semifinal