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Prep hockey attributes title win to hard work

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With the final seconds of their high school careers winding down, St. Francis Prep seniors Adam Discepolo and Ken D’Andrea couldn’t help but think back. Three years ago in St. Francis Prep’s first year of varsity hockey, Discepolo was relegated to a third line winger who could hardly skate. D’Andrea was cut and stayed on as the team’s manager.

But three years later, the duo are a big part of why the Terriers won the CHSHL ‘B’ division crown on March 16. Discepolo, the team’s captain, is one of the Terriers top scorers and D’Andrea is one of the team’s steadiest defensman.

Both Discepolo and D’Andrea say the seeds of the championship team were sowed innocently enough three years ago when, along with teammate Mike Ferri, they attended the Cornell Hockey Camp for one week in July.

“It started with us,” Discepolo said. “It doesn’t start with the season. We wanted to get a head start and Cornell was a great way. At Cornell you learn the fundamentals.”

This past July 17, members of the St. Francis Prep hockey team attended the camp. Most also went to other camps to work on power skating drills.

“When you play in the summer, you have your mind on hockey,” D’Andrea said. “When you like to play, you think about hockey year-round.”

Prep’s junior goaltender Jason Black also attended a goaltending camp upstate. The Middle Village native was named MVP of the championship series, allowing just two goals and making 58 saves in the Terriers two-game sweep over Salesian.

“He came through big-time, not that it wasn’t to be expected,” D’Andrea said of Black, who only allowed two breakaway goals. “In the final game he just stonewalled them.”

The Terriers defeated St. Raymond’s in a hard-fought two-game semifinal series, winning 4-2 and 3-2. Prep was expecting to face Xavier in the finals, but the Knights were upset by Salesian. Prep coach Billy Turner warned his team about not overlooking the Eagles.

“Anytime you have two teams in a final series, anything can happen,” he said. “Both teams earned a spot in the final. We respect all our opponents.”

In the opening game, Prep defeated Salesian, 9-0. Dan McCloskey scored four goals and Discepolo, D’Andrea, Luke Desmond, James Bertorelli and Mark Foris scored one goal apiece.

The Terriers clinched the crown the next night, as Bertorelli netted a hat trick and Leistman, Giancarlo Racanelli, McCloskey, Discepolo and Desmond also scored in the 9-2 rout.

“We’ve had a rigorous practice schedule,” said Turner. “We worked as hard, if not harder, than any team in the city. It was good for the boys for them to see their hard work come to fruition.”

St. Francis Prep will now advance to the CHSHL ‘A’ division, where they will join Queens rivals Christ the King and Molloy. In three years the Terriers have a record of 40-11-4.

“We’ve done some things right and hopefully we’ll keep going in the direction,” Turner said. “People are starting to really believe in the system. It’s starting to pay off.”

For Turner, who coached Nashville Predators Tommy Fitzgerald at Austin Prep in Massachusetts, it is his second high school championship. He was on the Chaminade staff in 1993 that went undefeated.

With 12 returning players and a couple of players from the Long Island Edge travel team expected in school next year, the Terriers should be competitive in the ‘A’ division.

“The ship is going in the right direction,” Turner said. “I see a pretty positive horizon.”

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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