Dublin Scioto High School hockey coach J.J. Stallsworth challenged senior center Fran Filice to help pick up the scoring slack after the Irish lost their only other consistent scorers from last season, Taylor Capps and A.J. Levell, to graduation.

Dublin Scioto High School hockey coach J.J. Stallsworth challenged senior center Fran Filice to help pick up the scoring slack after the Irish lost their only other consistent scorers from last season, Taylor Capps and A.J. Levell, to graduation.

Filice, the team captain, has exceeded Stallsworth's expectations thus far, as he has scored 14 of Scioto's 29 goals and set up five goals with assists.

"We need Fran to score this season more than ever before, because we don't have any other seasoned scorers, and he hasn't let us down," Stallsworth said. "Fran's been our Offensive Player of the Year the past two years, but what's really impressive is he's been doing a lot of his scoring on his own, off of opportunities he's creating himself.

"Other teams always put their best defenders on him, because they don't have to account for a second line or even another big-time scorer, but Fran keeps finding ways to score and set up his teammates."

Filice has scored the majority of his goals on breakaways after he's stolen the puck.

While sitting out the first half of his freshman season with a right shoulder injury, Filice learned how to anticipate and execute breakaway opportunities by studying the habits of 2007 Scioto graduate Jerry Staley.

Filice also watches opposing goalkeepers during warm-ups to figure out their weaknesses.

"Jerry was the best player to ever come through our school, and I try to mimic the way he played," Filice said. "Jerry always watched where the puck was going instead of just chasing it around, and he knew when it was a good time to take his chances and go for a breakaway. I've learned to do that this year, whether it's by intercepting a pass or blocking a shot at the point. Once I break out of the zone, I know where I'm going to shoot most of the time, because I watch for the goalkeeper's weakness and shoot the puck there."

Superior skating speed has given Filice an edge as well.

While growing up in Woodbridge, Ontario, near Toronto, Canada, Filice began skating at the age of 3, and he started competing in youth hockey leagues after moving to Dublin two years later.

During the past offseason, Filice improved his skating speed by participating in several training sessions on a hockey treadmill with synthetic ice at Chiller North.

"My biggest strength is my skating," Filice said. "Teams have been trying to hit me a lot more this year, especially when I try to go by them for a breakaway, so I've got to build up a lot of speed early to get by them."

Filice played a big role in Scioto's only victory in its first 12 games this season, a 4-3 overtime win over DeSales on Dec. 10. He scored two goals within the last three minutes of the third period and scored the winning goal in overtime to help the Irish rally from a two-goal, third-period deficit.

But Stallsworth is quick to point out that Filice doesn't just contribute in scoring. He also leads the Irish in hits (95) and faceoffs won (188).

"Fran does it all," Stallsworth said. "He plays (defensive end) for the football team and he brings that physical mentality to the game. He's not afraid to deliver a clean, hard hit when he gets the chance, and he's our top faceoff man. He's a good all-around hockey player."

Filice has been motivated to play well in memory of Scioto senior Kyle Colello and Scioto sophomore Lyndsey Rice, who both died in a car crash on Nov. 28.

Scioto's entire team is wearing stickers with both students' names on the back of their helmets, and Filice writes both of their names on the blade of his stick before each game. He also has added a 'K' before the captain's 'C' that is stitched on the front of his jersey to represent the initials of Kyle Colello's name.

"I've been friends with Kyle since the sixth grade, and my sister used to date Lyndsey's brother," Filice said.

"Kyle skated with us a couple of times his sophomore year, and we've retired his football number (26). We're doing what we can to remember them, and they're a big part of my inspiration this year."

Filice is on pace to score more goals than the 21 he had as a junior, and he's hoping that will help the Irish win more games than they did last season when they finished 4-27-2.

"I don't think I'm going to play varsity hockey in college, so I want to go out with a bang," he said.