Though it fell short of a third straight trip to the state championship game last season and has lost two of its most dynamic playmakers, the Fairfield Prep hockey team expects to be successful again in 2012-13.

The Jesuits return their top-scorer from 2011-12, David White, and all but one defensemen from the club that finished 19-4.

"With 13 returning lettermen, we expect to be deep and experienced," Prep coach Matt Sather said via email.

White, who scored 28 goals a season ago, will be the lone returner from the Jesuits' top-line. Matt Brophy and AJ Unker-- who combined for 17 goals and 35 assists-- have departed for post-graduate school.

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Tim Edmonds, Kenny Kochiss, Dean Lockery, Nick Bargiello and Matt Wikman are all returning lettermen, and Sather believes they'll need to score the goals.

"We'll look to [them] to anchor the offense," Sather said.

Yet, Prep will have five returning defenders from the squad that relinquished just 31 goals in 23 games. Four seniors will lead the charge anchored by Andrew Hatton. Sean Henry, Billy D'Amore and Kevin Brown are also multi-year players who will attempt to shut Prep's opposition down.

"[They] have played together for three years and lead a fast and physical defensive unit," Sather said.

In goal, Prep will strive to replace Riley Wikman. Wikman was 15-3 with a 1.45 goals-against average in his senior season. But last year's back up Matt Beck will compete with Chris Gutierrez for the starting spot.

Prep always loads its schedule with top-flight competition, and this year will be no different. The Jesuits will open against defending-FCIAC champion Ridgefield, plus two games apiece against ND-West Haven, ND-Fairfield and Hamden.

Prep's Feb. 2 contest against Hamden will be at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena.;