Hockey: Thomas Worthington hopes balanced approach sparks offense

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Junior forward R.J. Stoller (center) is one of the players being asked to pick up the scoring load with the graduation of last season's leading scorer, Will Pischel. Thomas plans to rely on a balanced attack this season.

The good news for the Thomas Worthington hockey team is it returns an experienced roster after losing only four players from last season to graduation.

The bad news is one of those 2020 graduates was leading scorer Will Pischel.

Sixth-year coach Bill McGill said one of the challenges his team faces is replacing Pischel’s offensive output. He scored 49 goals last season as the Cardinals finished 24-12-1-1 overall and 7-7-1-1 in the CHC-White Division.

“We lost a lot of goals with Will Pischel graduating, so our challenge is going to be to put goals on the board,” McGill said. “We’re going to spread it around. I think instead of having one guy get 50 goals, we’ll have four or five guys that get 10 or 15. It’s a pretty balanced team. We have a lot of people who can contribute, and that’s going to be our key to our success.” 

McGill said the Cardinals will rely on an offense mainly consisting of senior forwards Evan Kendall, Sebastian Edvardsen, Riley Bootes and Jack Coe and junior forwards R.J. Stoller and Collin Stegemiller. 

“Although we lost a key piece to our program last year, as a group we don’t aim to fill (Pischel's) shoes but build our own legacy,” Kendall said.

Seniors Carson Smith, Carter Reinbolt and Chance Young and junior Alex Piero will be the Cardinals’ key defensemen, with sophomore Elliot Hartwick in goal.

“We have arguably the best defensive core in the CHC with four returnees and a very solid sophomore goaltender,” Kendall said. 

McGill and Kendall said the Cardinals have the experience and depth needed to win the CHC-White this season. 

The CHC paused games through the end of November because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“The first thing we have to take care of is we’re in that middle division (in the CHC) and we want to come out of that on top and compete with the big boys,” McGill said.

“One of our main goals is to make it to the third round in the (district) tournament and win the White Division,” said Kendall, whose team reached the second round of the postseason last winter. “We will shock many teams this year and I’m extremely confident our team will make a run in the tournament.”

Wolves return

to varsity play

For the first time since the 2014-15 season, when it finished 13-9-0-1, Kilbourne will field a varsity team.

Coach Brian Cummings, who’s in his fourth season with the program after spending the previous three guiding the junior varsity team, said players who started with Kilbourne’s youth program have now reached high school in adequate numbers. The Wolves will carry 17 players on their roster.

“We built the program from the ground up,” Cummings said. “It’s been a couple years now, so some of those players have come up through the program and are now in high school.” 

The Wolves’ offense will consist of key forwards such as seniors Andrew Bickell and Elijah Alpern, juniors Riley Geeding and Joey Delashmutt and sophomores Luke Walton and Simon Abbott. 

“Our biggest strength right now is our speed and our skill,” Cummings said. “We have some guys that are just dynamic goal-scorers that can just take the puck and they get out there together.” 

Cummings said top defensemen include senior Kieran Cummings, juniors Will Gundel and Nick Siler and sophomore Patrick Jeans. Sophomore Owen Shaffer will be in goal. 

“That’s kind of one of our big strong points this year. We have a really solid defense,” Cummings said. “They’re all big, strong guys that have been playing hockey for a long time, and they’re shutting these teams down (during the preseason).”

The Wolves will compete in the CHC-Blue. 

“Even though this is our first year in ... I know we’re right there in the mix with some of these teams," Cummings said. "Our goal this year is to be up there pushing toward the top of the division.”

Bickell said the Wolves intend to prove that they can compete at the varsity level.

“I think we’ve all learned to adapt in certain situations with COVID and play harder (on) varsity," he said. "I think we are capable of being one of the top teams in our division. 

“I think (our program is) capable of becoming a top program and I think coach Cummings has done a great job with building the program from when we struggled with numbers.” 

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve

KILBOURNE

Coach: Brian Cummings, fourth season 

Top players: Simon Abbott, Elijah Alpern, Kieran Cummings, Joey Delashmutt, Will Gundel, Patrick Jeans, Nick Siler and Luke Walton

Key losses: None

THOMAS 

Coach: Bill McGill, sixth season

Top players: Riley Bootes, Jack Coe, Sebastian Evardsen, Elliot Hartwick, Evan Kendall, Alex Piero, Carter Reinbolt, Carson Smith, Collin Stegemiller and R.J. Stoller

Key losses: Jorge Bare, Sam Hartwick and Will Pischel

Last season: 24-12-1-1 overall

2019-20 CHC-White standings: Olentangy Orange (22, 11-5), Olentangy Berlin (20, 10-6), Cincinnati Moeller (20, 9-5-1-1), Cincinnati St. Xavier (18, 9-7), Thomas (16, 7-7-1-1), Springboro (14, 7-9), Dublin Coffman (12, 5-9-2), Olentangy (11, 5-10-0-1)

Postseason: Defeated Beavercreek 5-1; lost to Oxford Talawanda 5-2 in second round of district tournament