Williston has secured the number four spot in the New England boy’s hockey tournament and will play the Brunswick Bears on Wednesday at Lossone Arena. The road to the tournament was not paved with roses and this team worked hard and battled adversity to get there.
It began on Valentine’s Day when the Canterbury Saints came to town. Williston was looking to avenge a loss in the waning seconds in New Milford at the beginning of the New Year. Fortunately for Williston, Cupid shot his arrow in the ‘Cats direction and they won in overtime, 4-3.
Williston dominated play in the first period outshooting Canterbury by a three to one margin. Sam Milnes got the home team on the board when he took a pass from Cam “The Sauce” Mariani and the Captain nipped top shelf to put Williston up 1-0. A few minutes later Canterbury would tie the game on a short-handed goal knotting the game at one.
There were no goals in the second though again Williston outplayed Canterbury, outshooting them mightily.
Early in the third, Canterbury went up 2-1 before Milnes scored his second of the night on the Canterbury doorstep. The Captain was able to tip an Alex Berg shot and bang home the rebound. Brendan Hansen earned the other assist. Ethan Agostoni put the Wildcats up 3-2 when Kyle Caddo took a pass from Connor Power in the neutral zone and ripped a shot that was saved by the Saints goalie, however Agostoni drove hard to the net and poked a rebound between the goalie’s legs. Things were looking good until the 16:38 mark of the period with the Canterbury goalie pulled. Canterbury won an offensive faceoff and took a shot that beat Greg Iverson. Williston was stunned but headed to overtime.
Williston successfully killed a penalty and then in an identical play to Canterbury just four minutes earlier, Hansen won an offensive faceoff to Milnes who beat a well-screened Canterbury goalie. The Williston bench cleared, arms when up, and metaphorical hats flew on the ice for Milnes third goal of the game.
Williston outshot Canterbury 41-21; Iverson made 18 saves on the day and Milnes earned the game puck.
Williston traveled to Deerfield that Friday for a battle of Western MA foes. Not much to report here. Williston out-played Deerfield for the majority of the game but for a 20 second stretch where they were able to beat Iverson on a break away with Kevin Lassman draped all over the eventual scorer. Williston battled hard but could not even the game. Williston outshot Deerfield 33-25.
Williston took the weekend off as they prepared for a three game week. The first game was on a balmy 70 degree day in Albany, NY. Temps were up and the bus A/C was broken! No worries as our bus driver converted the escape hatches into sunroofs and the team rested comfortably in the breeze. Great to be back to the home state for this writer! God’s country!
Williston got up on Albany 2-0 in the first period when Billy Smith was able to net a goal from Logan Geisness, and Kevin Lassman scored on the power play on a blast from the point. Assists went to Geisness and Rego.
In the second, Albany scored three straight goals to go up 3-2. Williston battled for the remainder of the period and was rewarded on a backhand shot from Brandon McGill. See assists from Lassman’s goal.
In the third, Geisness was able to score Williston’s first of three short-handed goals in their final three games. Connor Power was able to get a puck to Smith along the wall. Smith was able to bump the puck around a defensemen and squeak a puck to Geisness who took care of business from there.
Williston outshot Albany 41-23. Iverson got the win and Geisness earned the game puck.
On Friday, Winchendon came to town. This was Williston’s third game against the Wapitis having taken the first game in a shootout at the St. Sebastian’s Christmas Tournament. Williston then beat them up in Central MA 3-2.
Winchendon got on the board in the first after killing a five minute major. Williston outplayed Winchendon but could not score.
Williston scored its second short-handed goal in two games when the penalty-killing duo of Billy Smith and Logan Geisness went in on a 2-0. Smith drove to the net and looked like he was going to shoot before he slid a cross-crease pass to Geisness who buried the puck. One of the sweetest goals of the season for this writer.
Geisness would score the game-winner in the third when he drove home a loose puck on the crease. Assists went to Novotny and Smith.
Williston outshot Winchendon 35-20 as Iverson got the win and Geisness earned the game puck.
Friday was Senior Night for twelve of our players. Parents flew and drove from as far away as Alaska, California and Wisconsin; as close as Southampton, MA; and everywhere in between. The evening concluded with a wonderful dinner with parents of our boys. Tip of the cap to Peggy Hansen and all of the other Williston mothers and fathers for their help!
Even with the win against Winchendon, Williston was still not guaranteed a spot in the tournament. So with their destiny in their own hands, Williston boarded the bus and headed to the Pomfret School for a tilt with the Griffins.
The game started promptly at 2:30 and Williston forgot to get off the bus going down 2-0 in the first.
After a riveting, nay, motivating speech by Coach Cunha, the Wildcats decided to join in the festivities of period two. Billy Smith kicked things off on the power play when he let a Hyde-Park howitzer go from the blue line with assists going to Jake Durocher and Hunter Sarro. Pomfret answered four minutes later with a tally. However, just twelve seconds after that, Brendan Hansen took things into his own hands and brought the game back to one with a blast from the slot. Kyle Caddo and Milnes got the helpers. Williston went into the dressing room down one but with momentum well in their favor.
The third period was all Williston when David Novotny evened things up at the 2:05 mark when he took a pass cross zone from Smith and rifled a shot into a wide open net. Geisness was the second assist. Then Brendan Hansen capitalized on a short-handed bid with an assist from Milnes to put the Wildcats in the driver’s seat and with continued momentum.
Then things got interesting.
With 11:43 left in the period, Tim Rego carried the puck into the Pomfret zone and took a routine hit into the boards. What appeared to be routine turned chaotic when the glass shattered at the impact of the 200 pound Tim Rego. Play was stopped and both benches went to their respective dressing rooms. A little less than hour later, play resumed.
Sam Milnes put the final nail in the coffin when he took a home-run pass from Brendan Hansen at the Pomfret blue line, drove down the slot, cut back against the grain getting undercut by a Pomfret defenseman. For a player like yours truly, a yard sale would have ensued, but Milnes was able to corral his stick, his wits, and the puck, and put a low shot past the Pomfret goalie. Williston would continue its onslaught giving Pomfret very low-grade chances and take the game, 5-3.
Shots in the game were 32-27 Williston, with Iverson making 24 saves. Hansen earned the game puck.
On Sunday Williston learned it would be playing Brunswick at Lossone at 3:45. At that, many of the Williston players decided to introduce themselves to the clippers and try their hands as barbers. The results are interesting to say the least.
So come on down to the old hockey barn in Easthampton on Wednesday afternoon. Watch the game, stay for the hair.