Despite being in a rebuilding year after three consecutive appearances in the Class 5A final four, the Columbus Icemen club hockey team made it back to the 3A state title game last season.

With a strong nucleus of players returning, they hope to return to a top level this season.

“We’re not sure how it’s going to fall until we get there,” new Icemen coach Isaac Coy said. “But I can see us playing for a 4A title this year.”

Coy was the head coach of the Junior Icemen U15 team two years ago and was first assistant to varsity coach Andy Cesarski last season. The team lost to Penn 6-3 in the 3A state finals.

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Back to lead the Icemen is senior goalie Luke Fry.

“I refer to him as a 90 percent goaltender because he averages anywhere from 90 to 95 percent saves, which is very good in hockey,” Coy said. “When I’m coaching my players, if there’s a situation where there’s a shoot or pass option, always take the pass because Luke can handle the shooter.

“Last year, he saved us in many, many games,” he said. “I’m anticipating another great season out of Luke, potentially taking us to another state final.”

Senior defenseman Cameron Nelson returns and will likely be joined on the back line by freshman Jacob Elliot. Senior Will Mayhew has returned after taking two years off and will start at forward, along with his brother, freshman Mark Mayhew, and junior Sean Bowman.

Junior Evan Shaw and freshman Sean Thomasson will see action on defense. Junior Jalan Armstrong, junior Jordan Kelley and senior Jarod Buchta provide depth at forward. Junior Jacob Behrman and Jack Tearman are the backup goalkeepers.

The Iceman lost a prolific goal-scorer in Ryan Cesarski and are planning a committee approach to replace that scoring load.

“We want to win every game by one goal, so we’re going for a strategic defensive approach,” Coy said. “I expect the goals to come from multiple players and multiple lines. I think that there is a wide range of ability to score goals, so we’ve kind of spread that out and dispersed it among the lines. Ryan is a fantastic player, but there are several players that are going to step up and fill that role.”

The Icemen beat the Bloomington Blades 5-1 in a preseason game on Sept. 25. They open the regular season Friday through Sunday at the Shamrock Invitational in Louisville.

“I feel confident in our team as a whole,” Coy said. “I don’t feel like we have very many weak spots defensively. We’re going to have a strong showing this season again.”

If you go

The 2015-16 Columbus Icemen schedule:

Friday;Shamrock Tourney at Louisville;9:15 p.m.

Saturday;Shamrock Tourney at Louisville;4:15 p.m.

Sunday;Shamrock Tourney at Louisville; 7 a.m.

Oct. 24;Zionsville at Carmel;5:45 p.m.

Nov. 1;at Bloomington Blades;noon

Nov. 6;at Fort Wayne;9:15 p.m.

Nov. 7;at Fort Wayne;7 p.m.

Nov. 8;at Fort Wayne;7 a.m.

Nov. 13;Westfield at Fishers;7:15 p.m.

Nov. 14;Hamilton Southeastern A at Fishers;2:30 p.m.

Nov. 15;Southstars A at Fishers;1 p.m.

Nov. 20;Bloomington Blades;9:15 p.m.

Nov. 21;Evansville at Fuel the Flame;9:30 p.m.

Nov. 22;Evansville at Fuel the Flame;9:30 a.m.

Dec. 4;at Carmel Blue;8 p.m.

Dec. 5;Hamilton Southeastern B;8:30 p.m.

Dec. 6;CIK Knights A;12:15 p.m.

Dec. 11;at South Bend;9:15 p.m.

Dec. 12;at South Bend;4:15 p.m.

Dec. 13;at South Bend;7 a.m.

Dec. 18;Westfield;9:15 p.m.

Dec. 20;Zionsville;12:15 p.m.

Jan. 8;at Carmel Gold;9:45 p.m.

Jan. 9;Hamilton Southeastern B at Fishers;9 p.m.

Jan. 15:MLK Crossover at Fishers;TBA

Jan. 16:MLK Crossover at Fishers;TBA

Jan. 17:MLK Crossover at Fishers;TBA

Jan. 23;South Stars A;7 p.m.

Jan. 24;Carmel Blue;12:15 p.m.

Jan. 29;Carmel Gold;9:15 p.m.

Jan. 30;at Evansville;4:30 p.m.

Jan. 31;at Evansville;10 a.m.

Feb. 5;Hamilton Southeastern A;9:15 p.m.

Feb. 12;CIK A at Fishers;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 13;CIK A;8:30 p.m.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.