Hockey: Westerville Warcats hoping to attain high goals

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Junior forward Cullen Hassel is among the top returnees for the Warcats club hockey team, which is seeking its third consecutive state tournament berth. Hassel attends Westerville Central.

The Westerville club hockey team is looking to atone for a disappointing 2019-20 season that included a subpar performance in the 12-team state tournament.

The Warcats went 4-10-4 in the Ohio Scholastic Hockey League last season and finished 12-20-6 overall after going 0-3 in pool play at the Buckeye Cup.

Westerville is seeking its third consecutive state tournament berth.

“The goals don’t change,” third-year coach Jordan DiGiando said. “We’d definitely like to ... try to come out on top in our league. (We didn't have a) fantastic record last year, but (we're) trending in the right direction.”

The Warcats were 5-5-2 overall and 2-2 in the OSHL through 12 games. DiGiando said league opponent Athens has dropped to a junior varsity schedule.

Westerville is scheduled to play in the Adam Allgeyer Memorial Tournament on Friday, Dec. 4, through Sunday, Dec. 6.

“We’re fortunate to be playing,” DiGiando said. “(We) have been taking all the (COVID-19) policies pretty serious and that’s helped us.”

Junior Sedric Cowans (Reynoldsburg) has been the team’s top offensive threat early this season, and defenseman Andy Reisinger (Westerville Central) has been another key contributor.

“We’re doing pretty well,” Reisinger said. “We probably could have won a few more games. We just have to buy into some systems, but I think that will come in the future games. We have to get the young guys going.”

Other key offensive contributors have been senior forward Santo Scillia (Westerville South), junior forwards Caleb Bussey (Reynoldsburg) and Cullen Hassel (Central) and freshman forward David Reisinger (Central).

DiGiando said Scillia has been out with an upper-body injury and should return by January.

Senior Aidan Mukavetz (South) has seen most of the action in goal. Sophomore William Caron (Central) also has seen time at the position.

The roster also includes seniors Daniel Bridge (forward, Westerville North), Sean Hunt (forward, Central), Andrew Pawlack (forward, South), Alex Snyder (defenseman, North) and Bryce Wickiser (defenseman, New Albany) and juniors Joshua Bluemel (forward, North) and Chase Nixon (defenseman, North).

Others looking to contribute are sophomores Nicholas Crone (defenseman, South), Colin Fury (forward, North), Reed Hinton (forward, North), Daniel Johnson (forward, North), Josh Tidd (forward, North) and Aiden Whaley (defenseman, Worthington Christian) and freshmen Wilson Cooper-Kleeberger (defenseman, Central) and Owen Hood (defenseman, Central).

“We’ve had a lot of good talent come in,” DiGiando said. “The numbers are really good this year. It’s about the highest we’ve had since I’ve been around, so that’s been great to building a program.”

Andy Reisinger said the Warcats have set high goals.

“The state tournament is a goal this year,” said Reisinger, who is in his third season with the team. “We’re on track this year. That’s definitely the No. 1 goal besides winning the league.”

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Coach: Jordan DiGiando, third season

Top players: Caleb Bussey, Sedric Cowans, Cullen Hassel, Andy Reisinger and Santo Scillia

Key losses: Nicholas Frissora, Gabe Muccio and Joshua South

Last season: 12-20-6 overall

2019-20 OSHL standings: Newark (32, 15-1-2), Hilliard (26, 12-4-2), Dayton (22, 9-5-4), Northeast (18, 8-8-2), PHA (16, 6-8-4), Westerville (12, 4-10-4), Athens (0, 0-18)

2020 postseason: Lost to Medina 3-2 (SO); lost to Cincinnati Swords 4-0; lost to Miami Junior RedHawks 2-1 in Buckeye Cup pool play