For two decades, you could have called Joel Siegman “Mr. High School Hockey” in Central Ohio.
The Blue Jackets manager of fan development loved the sport, dedicating plenty of time to ensure the success of Central Ohio’s high school hockey league, the Capital Hockey Conference, as well as the annual OHSAA state championships.
“Joel was heavily involved in high school hockey when he was working for the Blue Jackets, and even after he retired,” Dublin Jerome head coach Pat Murphy said. “He spent countless time doing rankings, the state championships, the Blue Jackets Cup. He did a lot for high school hockey in Central Ohio. He was a terrific guy.”
After Siegman passed away in May of last year, Murphy and others in the area’s high school hockey community were looking for a way to honor his memory. At this weekend’s Blue Jackets Cup, the tournament that caps the CHC season, the first annual Joel Siegman Award will be given to the conference’s assistant commissioner for scheduling, Chris Khan.
In the eyes of Murphy, the Central Ohio hockey community and those with the Blue Jackets who have worked to build the high school version of the sport — including J.D. Kershaw, Greg Kirstein and Jason Zumpano — Khan best exemplifies the “outstanding commitment, volunteerism, selflessness and dedication” to the sport that Siegman stood for.
Khan first got involved in high school hockey when his son, Patrick, played at Dublin Jerome under Murphy. After some prodding from Kirstein, he first took over scheduling for the CHC junior varsity ranks and eventually took over the varsity scheduling as well.
Considering there are 18 varsity programs playing 16 games per season, plus 10 JV programs, and a finite amount of ice, you can imagine how difficult the job is for Khan.
“My wife put up with a lot of hours in my den that she called the ‘hockey bunker,’ because I would go in there and I could spend hours a day for a few months trying to get everything together,” Khan said. “Hockey is a little different sport. Football, baseball, basketball, the conference says, ‘Here’s your dates, here is when you are playing.’
“Hockey is a little different because Olentangy Liberty might be in a tournament one weekend, Jerome could be at another two weeks later. You sort of have to piece it all together. It’s a lot of spreadsheets and who is playing who and who played who last year at which ice. It takes some time.”
In fact, Khan said he starts putting the schedule together in May but remains on duty through the end of the season in case any cancellations come up or things need to be moved around in the schedule.
“He pulls his hair out every single season and does it without complaining one bit,” Murphy said. “I think he’s a good choice for this year for sure.”
A lifelong hockey fan who grew up in Ottawa Hills, Ohio, just outside of Toledo, Khan retired from his full-time job in April and said he has no plans to step aside from his CHC role. He also was sure to point out just how much it meant to him to be recognized in the same breath as Siegman, who won’t be with us for a Blue Jackets Cup for the first time in a long time.
“I’m honored since it’s the first year they’ve done this,” he said. “To be the first winner is pretty special to me.
“I just love the sport. I’ve met so many good people through hockey.”
The Games Themselves
By the end of this weekend, the Blue Jackets Cup presented by OhioHealth will have a new name on the trophy.
This year’s varsity tournament will run from Thursday through Sunday. There is also a consolation bracket that began last night, while Ohio Scholastic Hockey League JV games will also take place over the weekend.
Semifinals in both the championship and consolation varsity brackets will be held Saturday at the Ice Haus, with the varsity final Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at the Ice Haus and the consolation bracket final taking place beforehand at 2:15 p.m.
In the varsity bracket, it’s fair to say Olentangy Liberty is the favorite after getting through the regular season undefeated. Led by league-leading goal scorer Charlie Hughes (23 goals), fellow scoring standouts Jake Struck and Brian Savage, and goalie Thomas Morgan, the Patriots won all 16 games on the slate, outscoring foes 93-16 along the way. Liberty will start the tournament against No. 8 seed New Albany (9-5-2-0 CHC White), who is led by Jack Lower’s 17 goals and 18 assists in CHC play.
Meanwhile, the No. 4 seed will be St. Charles, as top scorer Jules Samuel and goalie Ryan Bowyer helped the Cardinals to a 6-7-2-1 mark in CHC Red play. Fifth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller went 5-6-4-1 in CHC Red action to take fifth in the top division.
On the other side of the bracket, second-seeded Upper Arlington (12-3-1-0 CHC Red) is a traditional power who went to the state final four a year ago. This year, the Golden Bears are led by such names as Brayden Koons, Jason Davis, and goalies Mason Herndon and Brady Hagkull. They’ll take on seventh-seeded Dublin Coffman, as the Rocks went 9-5-2-0 in the CHC White standings thanks in part to a White division-best 18 goals from Joe Shevetz.
Defending CHC champion Olentangy Berlin holds down the three seed, as the Bears were 11-3-1-0 in the CHC Red standings. Chris Brennan had 18 tallies in league play for Berlin, while Myles Edgson had 13 goals and 13 assists. They’ll take on sixth-seeded Olentangy, which had a 9-4-1-2 record to top the CHC White standings. The Braves are led by Jacob Schlade’s 10 tallies and Ben Dorbish’s eight.
(Editor’s note: Olentangy Liberty captured its quarterfinal by a 10-0 score over New Albany, while second-seeded Upper Arlington was upset 6-5 by Dublin Coffman in overtime. The Rocks will take on Berlin, which beat Olentangy 10-2, while Liberty gets St. Charles after the Cardinals took a 1-0 victory over Moeller.)
Last year’s final was an all-Olentangy affair, as Berlin beat Liberty by a 4-3 score in overtime to capture the school’s first CHC crown.
For a full bracket and to see the consolation bracket, visit the Capital Hockey Conference’s website.
The Ohio Scholastic Hockey League’s junior varsity tournament will also take place this weekend, with the championship game Sunday at 1:40 p.m. at Chiller North. The Dayton Stealth led the way in the regular season with a 17-0-1 record for 35 points, besting the Athens Bobcats (13-4-1) and Westerville Warcats (12-4-2).
The OSHL’s member teams are broken up into districts to allow players who do not attend a high school with an Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) sanctioned varsity program to play at a competitive high school level.
The OSHL varsity and CHC junior varsity tournaments will be held next weekend.