Hockey: Westerville Warcats cap season at state, coach steps down

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Senior Daniel Bridge and Westerville went 9-22-3 in Jordan DiGiando's final season as coach. DiGiando, who stepped down because of work commitments, said "there's a lot of young talent" in the Warcats program.

Jordan DiGiando will have fond memories of his tenure as Westerville club hockey coach. 

Citing work commitments, DiGiando has stepped down after four seasons with the program. He served one season as the junior varsity coach and the last three as varsity coach. 

“It was a tough decision,” DiGiando said. “I’m starting a business here in Columbus, so I won’t be able to give the time commitment that these guys deserve. Any time you can take part in a sport, it’s something you should cherish forever. (I) definitely (will have) great memories of Westerville.” 

The Warcats went 9-22-3 in DiGiando’s final season, capped by going 1-2 in the 12-team Buckeye Cup state tournament Feb. 26 and 27 at Chiller North.

Westerville, which was seeded ninth, lost to Hilliard 7-1, fell to North Royalton 5-4 in overtime and defeated Miami 5-2 in Buckeye Cup pool play.

“It’s always a good thing when you win your last game,” said senior forward Santo Scillia, who attends Westerville South. “It was an honor playing, especially going to state.” 

In the Blue Jackets Cup, which is the tournament for the Ohio Scholastic Hockey League, fifth-seeded Westerville went 1-1, defeating fourth-seeded Northeast 7-2 on Feb. 12 and losing to top-seeded Dayton 11-1 on Feb. 13. 

Junior forward Sedric Cowans (Reynoldsburg) led the team in scoring with 19 goals and 22 assists for 41 points. Junior forward Cullen Hassel (Westerville Central) had 16 goals and eight assists for 24 points, and junior forward Caleb Bussey (Reynoldsburg) had 16 goals and seven assists for 23 points. 

Senior defenseman Andrew Reisinger (Central) had six goals and 16 assists for 22 points, freshman forward David Reisinger (Central) had six goals and 11 assists for 17 points and Scillia had 10 goals and three assists for 13 points. 

Sophomore goalie William Caron (Central) had a 4.25 goals-against average and an .871 save percentage. 

Others eligible to return are juniors Joshua Bluemel (forward, Westerville North) and Chase Nixon (defenseman, North), sophomores Nicholas Crone (defenseman, South), Colin Fury (forward, North), Reed Hinton (forward, North), Daniel Johnson (forward, North), Josh Tidd (forward, North) and Aidan Whaley (defenseman, Worthington Christian) and freshmen Wilson Cooper-Kleeberger (defenseman, Central) and Owen Hood (defenseman, Central). 

Westerville went 4-8-1 in the OSHL to tie Northeast for fourth with nine points, behind first-place Dayton (28, 14-0). Dayton went on to win the state title, defeating Medina 5-1 on Feb. 28. 

“There’s a lot of young talent here,” DiGiando said. “There have been years of developing and we grew a lot this year. We look forward to where the program goes.” 

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Record: 9-22-3 overall 

OSHL standings: Dayton (28, 14-0), Hilliard (20, 10-4), Newark (18, 8-5-2), Westerville (9, 4-8-1), Northeast (9, 4-8-1), PHA (0, 0-15) 

Seniors lost: Daniel Bridge, Sean Hunt, Aidan Mukavetz, Andrew Pawlack, Andrew Resinger, Santo Scillia, Alex Snyder and Bryce Wickiser 

Key returnees: Caleb Bussey, William Caron, Sedric Cowans, Cullen  Hassel and David Reisinger

Postseason: Lost to Hilliard 7-1, lost to North Royalton 5-4 (OT), defeated Miami 5-2 in Buckeye Cup pool play