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Deep field of teams prepares for 2014 Blue Jackets Cup in Columbus

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The field of teams keeps getting better every year. And while each individual team might not be thrilled by it, the fact is that hockey is booming in Columbus and high school hockey is on the rise.

We're talking about the annual Blue Jackets Cup, which begins today at OhioHealth Chiller Ice Rinks locations around Columbus. This year's tournament features 14 of the top high school hockey programs from the state of Ohio, and 13 of them are based in central Ohio.

Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati) is one of the top programs in the southwest region of the state, and will make the trip to Columbus in search of its first-ever Blue Jackets Cup championship.

Last year's varsity division champions, Dublin Jerome, stand a good chance to repeat as the Celtics continue to make their footprint as one of the Columbus area's top high school teams. Jerome begins its title defense tonight at the OhioHealth Ice Haus in a 6 p.m. game against St. Francis DeSales, which figures to be an entertaining match-up between two talented squads.

If you're looking for a favorite in the Blue Jackets Cup, it's hard to picking against Jerome: the Celtics have won three of the last four tournaments and two straight. Olentangy Orange, an emerging local program in its own right, took down the Celtics to win the varsity division championship and lost out the next season to (surprise) Jerome.

There's definitely a rivalry developing between the two schools - fueled in part by their frequent battles in the Blue Jackets Cup - and this will be a match-up to watch throughout the weekend.

In the club division, another local team has been dominant in the Blue Jackets Cup and that would be the Hilliard Wildcats. Comprised of players from the west and southwest areas of the city, the Wildcats have won two straight club division titles (2011, 2013) and should be considered one of the teams to beat in 2014.

NOTE: Established in 2002, the Blue Jackets Cup is an annual season-ending three division tournament for varsity, junior varsity, and club level teams in the Columbus area. Championship teams have their school name engraved on the trophy, which is on display year-round in Nationwide Arena.

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