The Columbus Icemen lost only five seniors from a team that played for the Class 4A state championship last season.
The Icemen will look to build on that run to the title game when they begin their 2016-17 hockey season this weekend. They will host the Reins to Recovery Invitational, a benefit tournament to raise awareness and money for Reins to Recovery, a therapeutic riding center for kids with disabilities.
The tournament will feature six teams — Bloomington, Westfield, Central Indiana, Chicago Marist and Northern Kentucky, along with the Icemen. Each team will play one game on Friday and two on Saturday, then will play a seeded game on Sunday.
At 6 p.m. Saturday will be a benefit goodwill donation dinner and skills competition. The Icemen will provide food for 80 to 100 people.
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As a team, this summer and preseason, have already completed more than 100 service hours with parks and recreation and Reins to Recovery.
“It’s kind of a pay-it-forward, if you will, teaching our athletes that it’s good to give back,” Icemen coach Issac Coy said. “It’s good to see the older guys giving back and working with the younger players and giving them something to live up to.”
Last year, the Icemen went 32-10-3 and fell to Carmel in the 4A state championship. Back to lead the Icemen are senior captains Noah Carlock, Jalan Armstrong and Jordan Kelley, all forwards.
Senior defenseman Evan Shaw and senior goalies Jack Tearman and Jacob Behrman also return. Among other top returners are sophomore defenseman Sam Thomasson and junior forward Dustin Rodgers.
Shaw is currently playing soccer for Hauser, while Thomasson is playing football and Rodgers is playing soccer at Columbus East.
The Icemen did lose a potential star when freshman forward Connor Long left Columbus hockey to play at the Triple-A level. But the current unit has been practicing as a team all summer and is now practicing three nights a week in preparation for the season.
“I think we’re going to have a stronger team as a whole this year than we did last year,” Coy said. “We’re excited to start the season. I think we’re going to make another run at a possible state championship this year.”
The 2016-17 Columbus Icemen schedule:
Friday;Bloomington (Reins to Recovery Inv.);7 p.m.
Saturday;Northern Kentucky (Reins to Recovery Inv.);8 a.m.
Saturday;Chicago Marist (Reins to Recovery Inv.);3:30 p.m.
Sunday;Reins to Recovery Inv. crossover game;TBA
Oct. 7;Westfield (at Carmel);8 p.m.
Oct. 21;South Stars;9:15 p.m.
Oct. 22;Zionsville (at Carmel);10:15 p.m.
Oct. 28;Central Indiana;9:15 p.m.
Oct. 29;at South Stars;4:15 p.m.
Nov. 5;at Culver;TBA
Nov. 6;at Culver;TBA
Nov. 12;Oxford (Ohio) Talawanda;TBA
Nov. 18;at South Stars;9:30 p.m.
Nov. 19;Lake Shore (at Fishers);2:15 p.m.
Nov. 19;Central Indiana (at Fishers);8 p.m.
Nov. 20;Hamilton Southeastern (at Fishers)10:20 a.m.
Dec. 2;Zionsville;9:15 p.m.
Dec. 3;Hockey for Heroes at Bloomington;TBA
Dec. 9-11;at South Bend Crossovers;TBA
Jan. 13-15;MLK games;TBA
Jan. 20;at Oxford (Ohio) Talawanda;9:15 p.m.
Jan. 21;at Evansville;3:15 p.m.
Jan. 27;at Bloomington;9:15 p.m.
Jan. 28;Louisville Trinity;TBA
Feb. 2;Carmel;9:15 p.m.
Feb. 3;at Carmel;4:15 p.m.
Feb. 17-19;Hoosier League Tournament at Fishers;TBA
March 3-5;ISHSHA State Pool Play (at TBA);TBA
March 11;ISHSHA State Championships (at TBA);TBA
The Columbus Icemen roster: