Two years after winning the Indiana State High School Hockey Association Class 2A championship, the Columbus Icemen have their sights on a title in a bigger division this season.
With a few players still around from that 2021 championship, the Icemen feel they have a team that can compete for a state title in one of the two largest classes this winter.
“We should be pretty good this year,” senior goalie Jake McMullen said. “We think we should be able to play for a 3A or 4A state championship.”
So far, the Icemen are off to a solid start. They opened the season by going 3-1 to win the Bluegrass Tournament in Owensboro, Kentucky, the last weekend in September, beating the Northern Kentucky Norse in a shootout in the final.
The Icemen then tied Westfield 2-2 on Friday.
“We have a pretty large junior class, and we have five seniors, so a lot of upperclassmen this year,” Iceman coach Isaac Coy said. “I have four new freshmen that are looking really good. But overall, we’ve had production from the whole team.”
The team is led by defensemen John Ferguson, Caden Graham and John Merritt and goalies McMullen and Ben Blanz. Carter Greene, Alex Clark, Will Kushner and River Degner provide much of the offense.
Degner is part of a talented freshman class that also includes Drew Weed, Eddie Aranda and Cole Finney.
“They’re all going to be outstanding players for us,” Coy said. “I have full confidence they’re all going to contribute to the team’s success.”
“I think we have a really good freshman class this year,” Ferguson added. “They’re doing a lot. I think them being very good will help us in the long run.”
Last year, the Icemen did not advance out of the playdown tournament. Coy said he is fully expecting them to be placed in either Class 3A or 4A this year, based on their skill level.
“I think our team has a lot of talent this year,” Merritt said. “I think we have a couple young guys that can really surprise some people. I’m really excited for what they have to show to the other teams. I think we’re a lot deeper than we were last year. We have a lot more talent. I think we’re going to surprise a lot more people. There’s a lot more commitment and dedication this year because we know what’s at stake, and we know that we can win a state championship.”
The Icemen play their first home game on Friday when they host Brebeuf Jesuit in a 9:15 p.m. start at Hamilton Community Center and Ice Arena. The Icemen then will visit Louisville St. Xavier at 11 a.m. Sunday.
For the first time in about 15 years, the Icemen also have a JV, or “Prep,” team.
“Our program is growing,” Coy said. “We have an outstanding girls program growing, as well. So top to bottom, Columbus Youth Hockey is very strong right now, continuing to grow. We’re looking forward to seeing two high school teams compete this year. It’s exciting.”