After the first period against the Worcester Academy Hilltoppers on Wednesday, January 8th, Williston had a three-goal lead. After the second, a five-goal lead, yet after each period Head Coach Derek Cunha was not satisfied.
After the first period, Cunha asked his team to evaluate its level of play on a scale of one to ten. He told his players that he would rate their play at about a one or two. (One member of the team said -4). “You guys have not earned anything out there right now,” Cunha said. He told his team that they were playing selfishly and that they were playing to rack up points, not playing solid team hockey.
Williston took an early lead, just 1:40 into the game, when senior forward Anthony Mantz skated down the right side of the rink, made a move to get past a Worcester defenseman, and scored on a backhand shot. Junior forward Rourke Ferguson was credited with the assist.
Less than one minute later, Williston added to its lead when junior forward Justin Lindsay was in the left corner of the offensive zone, skated up the boards and took a quick shot which found its way past Worcester’s goaltender. Lindsay did not seem to realize he had scored, at first, but then put his arms up in celebration. The goal was assisted by junior forward Jack Gethings.
Nine minutes later, on the power-play, junior forward Tyler Scroggins scored his fifth goal of the season to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead. Williston was circling the puck around when Scroggins got it behind the net. He “shot” the puck from behind the net and it hit a Hilltopper’s skate and found its way into the goal.
Williston controlled the puck for almost all of the first period, not allowing Worcester to get scoring chances. It’s my guess that the Hilltoppers probably had control of the puck in their offensive zone for around two minutes in the 18-minute first period.
At the beginning of the second period, the Wildcats had many scoring opportunities, but were unable to capitalize. With eleven minutes to go in the period, junior forward Will Flynn scored a rebound goal. It was assisted by Scroggins and senior forward Max Willman. The goal, however, was overshadowed by a Worcester player being quickly escorted off the ice with what it seemed like a cut in his hand. There was a break in action because blood from the injury had to be cleaned off the ice.
Twenty-three seconds later, Willman scored on a rebound. Scroggins again had the assist on the play.
Just over a minute later, sophomore defenseman Nick Garofano added to Williston’s lead. It was Garofano’s first goal of the season and it was assisted by Ferguson and Mantz
Less than a minute later, senior forward Kyle Hall took the puck from a Worcester player in the corner of Williston’s offensive zone. Hall then passed the puck to Lindsay who was waiting in the slot and scored. This was Lindsay’s second goal of the game and third of the season. This gave Williston a 7-0 lead.
After the game, Lindsay said, “It was good, it was a team effort out there, we moved the puck, and I was lucky enough to get open in the slot.”
In the final 35 seconds of the second period, Worcester scored two goals. The first came when a Hilltopper skated down the right side of the rink and hit the top-right corner of the net. Then, 18 seconds later, a Worcester player had the puck at the blue line of his offensive zone and took a shot that hit the top left corner of the goal.
After the period, Cunha told his team, “The fact that, one we give up a goal, but then 17 seconds later we give up a second one? That has to be something that’s unacceptable…When we give up a goal, [we have to go into] complete shutdown mode, especially in the last minute of a period.”
Early in the third period, the Wildcats had complete control over the puck, but were unable to score. With 8:39 to go in the final period, Williston went on the power-play, but made a goalie switch before it started. Sophomore goalie Shane Mason, who was playing in his third start of the season, was replaced by junior Elie Small. This was Small’s first appearance for Williston this season.
One minute later, on the power-play, junior defenseman Chris Dumont sent the puck to senior and Team Captain Willman who was at the blue line. Willman skated into Williston’s offensive zone and scored on a wristshot.
This was Dumont’s first game back since Williston’s December 11th game against Cushing, which the defenseman left with a leg injury. Williston was also without senior defenseman and Team Captain Nick Staub who has a lower-body injury. Also, senior defenseman Seth Cupak was unable to contribute due to illness.
After the game, senior Mantz said, “To be honest, we didn’t play our best hockey, we just got the win, got pucks to the net. We could have played harder, but we didn’t have the intensity that we should have had, but we came out here and got the win.”
This was Worcester’s fifth straight loss. In those five games, the Hilltoppers have been outscored by opponents 34 to 10.
Williston has just one day off before it faces Winchedon (away) on Friday, January 10th.
After the game, Coach Cunha said, “We win on a Wednesday, a little bit of a lopsided game, we come back and use tomorrow to refocus and then Friday we’re playing a really tough team—a very physical team, a good team. So, playing a game soon actually benefits us.”