The Generals had nearly a two-week layoff because of Thanksgiving.
Coach Don Jennings hopes the break did nothing to cool off his first line. The trio of juniors Ben Dennis and Taylor Blome and sophomore Levi Beckholt has given teams fits throughout the season’s first month, and the line has been able to carry the load for an inexperienced squad.
Beckholt and Blome share the team lead with three goals apiece in five Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League games. The Generals have just eight goals in league play as they have been defensive-oriented.
“It is a great combination,” senior defenseman Nathan Fowler said. “The first line, they tear it up out there. Especially Levi, he is something special.”
Fowler is a perfect complement to the scorers up front because he has a devastating slap shot from the point. Beckholt and Blome scored early goals to give the Generals a 2-0 lead before falling 4-3 to high-scoring Westerville on Nov. 21.
“Ben Dennis has been on this team since he was a freshman, and he is getting better and better. He has very good hands in front of the net,” Jennings said. “I don’t think there is a faster player in the league than Taylor Blome. He is like the wind out there. It is wonderful to watch him skate.”
Newark (2-3-2, 1-2-2) is back on the ice at home at 8 p.m. Thursday when PRPC visits the Lou and Gib Reese Ice Arena. The Generals had a disappointing 5-1 nonleague loss to Dayton on Nov. 24, but the defeat against Westerville was a positive step.
The Warcats are off to a flying start, and the Generals fought them tooth and nail. The game was tied at 2 after one period, and a shorthanded Westerville goal was the only score of the second period.
The Generals fell behind 4-2 early in the third, but a goal from an unlikely source gave the Generals hope. Sophomore Troy Peek camped out in the front of the net and scored off a Tyler Salyer assist. It was the type of contribution that tells Jennings the Generals are growing.
“Troy is not getting a lot of ice time right yet. He is just up from Bantam Travel, was one of the later picks for this team, but look at the effort we are getting from him,” said Jennings, whose team visits Athens on Friday.
“He is not getting a lot of shifts, but we know and he knows he is building for next season and probably later on for this season. Every time he is practicing with these guys, he is getting better, and that is all we want.”
Newark was relentless during the final minutes, but the Generals weren’t able to slide the puck into the net for the tying goal. The teams will see each other twice in January, so the Generals will have their chances to even the score.
“If there is something I am unhappy with, I will tell them,” Jennings said. “I am not unhappy with their performances — every last one on the ice.”