Fairfield Prep coach Matt Sather calls first-line senior center Dean Lockery of New Haven the Energizer Bunny.
He just keeps going and going and going…
The Jesuits, the defending Division I state champions, are on their usual deep run in the postseason and will face No. 4 seed Darien in the championship game today at 2 p.m. at Ingalls Rink in New Haven. One of the many reasons No. 3 Fairfield Prep is in the title game is Lockery’s non-stop effort. He’s involved in every phase of the game and has a nose for the puck.
“Dean is our energy guy, a guy who plays with enthusiasm, energy and never-quit mentality,” Sather said at the CIAC luncheon at the Aqua Turf in Southington on Thursday. “He’s more physical this year than last season. Whenever he plays you easily see he’s the best athlete on the ice. His athleticism just sticks out so much.
“We ask our centers to do a ton of work, and that means a player like Dean has a lot of responsibilities. He handles it well because he’s smart, tough and fast. He’s active digging pucks out of the corners, a key player getting to rebounds or setting up goals. And he plays just as hard in the defensive end.”
When you see Lockery on the ice, he usually has a smile on his face. He loves the sport. And he wants more. More ice time means more responsibilities. The more he’s involved, the more he can contribute to the team’s success.
“I love hockey and I have fun being out there,” Lockery said. “But as a senior, as one of the leaders of the team, I’ve had more responsibility and I’ve embraced that responsibility. I had a big role last year, but now I’m on the top line and my role is even bigger.
“I’m big and I like to hit. But I’m also a goal scorer and I’m always around the net looking for that rebound.”
Lockery said one key to his success is playing alongside left wing Matt Wikman and right wing Ken Kochiss. Wikman has 27 goals and 17 assists and Kochiss has 11 goals and 19 assists, Lockery, who scored the game’s first goal off a rebound in Prep’s 4-3 OT win over Notre Dame-West Haven in the semifinals, has 12 goals and 13 assists.
“Matt, Ken and I have known each other since youth hockey and have been playing together for almost six years,” Lockery said. “Those guys are talented and help make me better. Ken is a battler out there and Matt’s the goal-scorer. We’ve been playing so many years together that we know what to expect from each other when we’re on the ice.”
Like many teams, Prep has had its share of injuries this season and Lockery was one of the victims. He missed five games with a right knee injury. Being sidelined and not able to practice was frustrating for Lockery, who returned five games ago. It also forced Sather to make adjustments.
“With other injuries we had, I had to retool our lines and move guys around,” Sather said. “Somehow we got through that rough period. It was an adjustment for players that were moved around and played positions and roles they weren’t used to. But there was another adjustment period when Dean came back because the guys I moved around went back to their original roles. They had to adjust playing with Dean again. But the toughest part was just waiting to get Dean back.”
As much as Lockery loves hockey, he loves baseball a little bit more. The Fairfield Prep shortstop signed a letter of intent to play on the diamond at Central Connecticut State.
“I get calls from college hockey coaches all the time and one guy they always ask about is Dean Lockery,” said Sather, who’s also an assistant coach on the Prep baseball team. “He is a tremendous athlete and has the talent and potential to be a good college hockey player. But he’s a very good baseball player too. In hockey, he’s our offensive catalyst, and on the baseball team he’s a defensive gem at short.”
For now, Lockery has only one focus.
“We’re all absolutely pumped up to be playing for the Division I title again,” Lockery said. “There is no better feeling than playing in front of 3,000 people at Ingalls Rink.”
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