Defense will be the name of the game for the Clay hockey team this season.
The Eagles, 26-8 overall last season including 7-3 in the Northwest Hockey Conference's White Division, are predicted to finish fourth in the six-team division this season under first-year coach Mike Heck.
Bedford is the coaches' preseason pick to win the White Division, followed by Perrysburg, Maumee, Clay, Central Catholic and Whitmer.
The Eagles started White Division play 0-3, losing to Beford 10-0, Anthony Wayne 9-5, and Central Catholic 5-4. Heck knows he has his work cut out for him after losing much of his scoring to graduation.
Heck, who replaces Frank Butler, returns 14 lettermen but only three starters from last year's squad. The Eagles also graduated their top four goal scorers.
"We will be young and very inexperienced up front, and goal scoring will be the key factor to the success of the team," Heck said. "We should be very strong defensively this year."
The coach said junior forwards Michael Korb and Kahl McCrory and sophomore forward Logan Myers will be Clay's top offensive threats.
Junior goalie Josh Utter, an honorable mention all-league selection last season, gained valuable game experience the past two seasons, Heck said.
The team's most experienced players are junior defenseman Devon Eckman, a second-team all-league selection last year, senior defenseman Eric McGill, an honorable mention all-league pick, senior defenseman Matt Hartkopf and freshman defenseman Hudson Sabin.
The rest of the roster includes senior forward Shane Carr and senior defenseman Gamal Shousher, junior defenseman Michael Ruedy, junior forwards Troy Seger, Derek Berg and William Likes, sophomore forward A.J. Burns and freshmen Steve Moore, Jake Richard, Anthony Csizek and Matt Hennessey.