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Pickens' Perspective: Prep's depth is scary

Published 3:28 pm, Thursday, December 13, 2012
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Like Fairfield Prep's hockey team really needed more depth.

The Jesuits enter 2012-13 as the state's No. 2 team. They have two solid goaltenders, they return their leading goal-scorer and top-four defensemen from a club that finished 19-4 and reached the state semifinals.

The scariest part of Prep's 6-1, opening-night win over Ridgefield -- for the rest of Connecticut, at least -- is how deep Prep's team seems to be.

The Jesuits return 13 lettermen. But they did lose two top forwards, A.J. Unker and Matt Brophy. There was hope, perhaps among the state's other hockey-powers, that Prep would have trouble accounting for those 52 points that graduated.

Prep coach Matt Sather even realized that.

"It's a much different team," Sather said post-game. "When you lose a player of AJ's caliber up front, you have to make some adjustments."

But if Wednesday is any indication, Prep has three talented, hard-working lines. If the No. 1 ­-- David White, Nick Bargiello and Connor Henry -- isn't clicking, Nos. 2 or 3 will burn opponents.

What's scary is No. 1 clicked on Wednesday. Bargiello and White each scored goals and Henry would've if his shot had crossed the goal-line before the first-period buzzer had sounded.

But line No. 3­ -- Tim Edmonds, Mike Ventricelli and Matt McKinney -- was on a roll too. Each scored a goal, and Edmonds had two assists.

"I thought they were great," Sather said of his third line. "

We musn't forget line No. 2, which also potted one-- Matt Wikman's first-period goal.

Prep's defense and goaltender, Matt Beck, looked tough to beat, which is expected. Prep prides itself on staunch defense and strong goaltending. The Jesuits `D' has a tendency to lull opponents to sleep with its puck possession and disciplined play.

And the Jesuits certainly won't get their top-three scoring lines to score every night. To think that'll happen is absurd. Plus, there are talented in-state squads-- ND-West Haven, Hamden, Xavier, etc.,-- on the Jesuits' schedule. Goals won't come as easily as they did Wednesday.

But those team's certainly don't have the defensive prowess to shut-down three lines. If Ventricelli and McKinney offer the energy they gave Wednesday-- along with Edmonds' polish and leadership-- Prep won't lose much this year.

"He's such a mature kid," Sather said of Edmonds. "You can put him with two rookies, and there's no intimidation ... he's a special individual that way."

I know if Sather's reading this, he'll hate me jumping to conclusions. One game doesn't make a season, and Prep doesn't play simply to win regular-season games. The Jesuits want to peak and win a state title.

But if one game's any indication, Prep's depth puts it in prime position to put another banner in the Wonderland of Ice.

ppickens@bcnnew.com; twitter.com/Pat_Pickens

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