Another season of high school hockey in central Ohio is nearing its climax, and by the end of the weekend, the Blue Jackets Cup will have a new name affixed to the trophy.
The Capital Hockey Conference's championship weekend is upon us, with games beginning today and running through Sunday, when one local team will win the crown.
Quarterfinal games in the varsity division will all take place Thursday, with two at the OhioHealth Ice Haus, another at the Chiller Ice Works and one more at Chiller North. There is also a consolation bracket that began Wednesday and continues Friday.
Semifinals in both divisions will be held Saturday -- on the varsity side, there will be a doubleheader at the Ice Haus -- with the varsity final Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Ice Haus and the consolation bracket final taking place beforehand at 2 p.m.
In the varsity bracket, Upper Arlington is the odds-on favorite, as the state's No. 2-ranked team earned the top seed in the CHC tournament thanks to a 31-0-1 overall record and 15-0-1 CHC Red mark, with the only thing keeping the Golden Bears from a perfect record being a 3-3 tie at the Ice Haus on Jan. 31 vs. St. Charles. UA is matched up with Cincinnati Moeller (11-10-4, 8-5-1-1 CHC White) in its tourney opener on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Ice Haus.
In the 2-7 matchup, St. Charles (18-7-3, 11-3-1-1 CHC Red) owns the No. 8 ranking in the state and will begin tournament play Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at Chiller North vs. second-year program Olentangy Berlin (20-8-0, 10-6-0 CHC White).
There will be an all-Olentangy quarterfinal as well as third-seeded and state No. 6-ranked Olentangy Liberty (19-5-5, 10-3-3 CHC Red) will take on No. 6 Olentangy Orange (14-6-1, 11-5-0 CHC White) in a rematch of last year's first-round matchup.
Lastly, the 4-5 meeting is an intriguing one, as New Albany (17-11-2, 10-5-1 CHC Red) has earned the No. 4 seed and will take on last year's state runner up, Dublin Jerome. The Celtics lost a number of seniors from last year's squad that became the first central Ohio squad to ever make it to the state title game, but they boast an 14-11-2 record and 8-6-1-1 CHC Red record.
Dublin Jerome has won the last three tournaments and nine of the last 14.
For a full bracket and to see the consolation bracket, visit the Capital Hockey Conference's website.
Nationwide Arena's main ice will also serve as the home of the Ohio High School Athletic Association state tournament. Semifinals will be March 14 with the final a day later at 11 a.m.