Dublin Jerome captures third straight Blue Jackets Cup
Celtics defeat Olentangy Liberty for Capital Hockey Conference titleby Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com
There was no snow day Monday, but it was still a good day to go to Dublin Jerome High School.
One day after the Celtics won the Blue Jackets Cup as champions of the Capital Hockey Conference, it was a celebration of sorts in the halls.
"The school is rocking today, I can tell you that," head coach Pat Murphy said. "Everybody is all wound up around here today."
It's a celebration that has become familiar to the Celtics. The 3-1 victory at the OhioHealth Ice Haus over Olentangy Liberty gave Jerome its third straight Blue Jackets Cup victory as well as its ninth since 2005.
The Celtics got a pair of goals from Joel Kunzelman, one in the second period and another in the third, to break a 1-1 tie. Dalton Miller had scored in the first period as well, while Mark Bishopp got the victory in net.
THREE PEAT! Your Dublin Jerome Celtics are 2019 CBJ CUP CHAMPIONS! pic.twitter.com/pkxXk24Oi2- Dublin Jerome Hockey (@DJHSHockey) February 10, 2019
"Obviously that was one of our goals at the beginning of the season," Murphy said. "The players are really excited. They played really well this weekend, as we have all season. It's a special victory, especially for our seniors."
Dublin Jerome entered as the No. 1 seed in the event after going 14-1-0 in conference action. The Celtics defeated cross-city rival Dublin Coffman in the quarterfinals then took out New Albany in the semis to earn the game against Liberty, which began its tournament with a win vs. Olentangy Orange before defeating Upper Arlington.
The win improved the Celtics, who won the district and went to the state final four last year and also in 2015, to 29-2-2 on the season. Throughout the season, the Celtics have been led by top scorers Miller, Trent Belli, JP Weaver, Nick Augenstein and Avery Mlicki.
"All year long we've had great leadership from our captains," Murphy said. "Our captain is JP Weaver and our assistant captains are Ryan Jenkins and Nick Augenstein. We have 10 seniors on this team, and they've done a terrific job of keeping the team focused and motivated and sticking together."
Team defense has been a strength all season behind Bishopp and fellow goalie Ryan Norkin, while balanced scoring has allowed the Celtics to keep opponents from keying on any particular line.
"One of our main goals is to keep our goals-against low, and that starts in net with our two goalies. Our team really plays terrific team defense," Murphy said. "Offensively, we have some weapons, and we've had it seems like a different person or couple of different people game-to-game getting it done. It's not all about one line."
Cincinnati Moeller won the consolation bracket of the event, downing Springboro 11-2 in the final.
OHSAA district play now takes over, with many of the games set for the Ice Haus. The winner of the Columbus regional will advance to the state final four, which will be held March 8-9 at Nationwide Arena.
Dubin Jerome holds the No. 1 seed in the bracket with its first game set for Saturday against either Dublin Scioto or Cincinnati Elder. The rest of the top five seeds, in order, are Upper Arlington, Olentangy Liberty, New Albany and St. Charles.
If the Celtics can make it back to the district final, Murphy expects another big crowd of Jerome fans present downtown for the game March 2. That's typical of a program that has become a consistent winner and has the support to match.
"I think one of the things that speaks to the program in general, on a night like last night (in the Blue Jackets Cup final), it's not just the current players that are behind you and sending you messages and voice mails, it's the alumni," Murphy said. "The alumni are just as excited, the alumni parents are just as excited as they were when their kids were on the team.
"It makes you feel good that with Jerome Celtic hockey, people remember their times here and they look back on their experience with a smile."