by Nate Gordon-Team Reporter
One week ago, Max Willman ‘14 became just the third Williston graduate ever to be drafted by an NHL team. On Saturday, June 28th, the Buffalo Sabres selected Willman in the fifth round of the 2014 draft.
The most important tweets about Willman and the draft are shown throughout this article:
what an unreal feeling! thank you to everyone who has helped me reach this point! I'm excited and honored to be apart of the @BuffaloSabres
— Max Willman (@MaxWillman10) June 28, 2014
Willman spent just one year at Williston as a postgraduate. After graduating from Barnstable, Mass. High School in 2013, Willman was unsure of his future playing career. Williston Hockey Head Coach Derek Cunha offered Willman a spot on the 2013-14 roster. Willman accepted the opportunity, and after performing superbly in multiple showcases last summer, Willman committed to play Division 1 hockey at Brown University.
“He [Cunha] is a great coach with many contacts and will push for you when others won’t. He has been a major part [of] my success,” says Willman.
Cunha knows that Willman’s recent accomplishments reflect very well on his program.
Cunha says, “I think Max getting drafted is a great success story about what opportunities Williston Hockey can provide to its players and Max made the most of it…I know I was proud to wear my Williston gear in Philadelphia for the draft and my hope is that more players could be drawn to our school and program.”
Willman with Coach Cunha after being drafted (Cunha tweeted this) :
Max finally wrapped up all of his media duties, but time for one more photo! So proud of his accomplishment! pic.twitter.com/thwvko6FrS
— Williston Hockey (@WillistonHockey) June 28, 2014
Willman joins Matt DelGuidice and Kurt Stahura, both class of ’86, and Brian Jopling ’83 as the only four Williston graduates to be drafted. DelGuidice was chosen by the Boston Bruins and Stahura by the Minnesota Northstars (now known as the Minnesota Wild). Jopling was chosen by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 11th round.
Although undrafted, Williston graduate Patrick Rissmiller ’97 played in a combined 192 games and recorded 46 points while playing for four NHL teams. Rissmiller was captain of the 1997 Williston Hockey team that went 23-4, the most wins in the program’s history. In 2013, Williston inducted Rissmiller into the Athletic Hall of Fame.
This past season, Willman was a co-team-captain, centered Williston’s top line, and led the team in goals (21) and points (44). Williston ended the season with a 13-10-2 record, narrowly missing the playoffs.
Willman will still attend Brown next fall, but will join the Sabres when the organization believes he is ready.
“[I will] continue to work on my game and get bigger, stronger, and faster. As I progress and when the Sabres feel I’m ready I will either leave school early to pursue my dream of playing in the NHL or I will stay the four years and graduate from Brown and sign with the Sabres after,” Willman said.
A statement from the Buffalo Sabres’ GM about Willman’s character:
— Jeff Cox (@JeffCoxSports) June 28, 2014
Willman signing autographs at the draft:
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) June 28, 2014
A few days after the draft, Willman tweeted that he will be working within the Sabre’s system this summer:
— Max Willman (@MaxWillman10) July 2, 2014
Information from Williston Athletic Director Mr. Mark Conroy and Associate Director of Athletics Mr. Jay Grant was used in this report.
Sept. 16 Correction: Max Willman was the fourth Williston grad to be drafted; the original story referred to only three previous grads and has been amended to include information on Brian Jopling.