The Williston Wildcats got down by four goals early to the Salisbury Scarlet Knights tonight and couldn’t muster enough offense to rally in the end.
As usual, a Saturday evening game at Salisbury meant that the Scarlet Knight cheering section was in full effect bringing a raucous spirit to the arena that is rivaled by few other barns in prep hockey. It reminded this writer of Cornell games he used to watch in the late-90s at Lynah Rink in Upstate New York: plenty of spirit and passion.
Williston began the game winning the initial draw and setting the tone early suggesting that perhaps last year’s 6-1 thrashing of Salisbury was not a fluke. Williston broke into the zone and got things going for the style of hockey that they wanted to play. Early on, both clubs went back and forth up and down the ice, feeling each other out.
Just about mid-way into the first period, however, Salisbury got on the board when a player came out of the corner, threw a hard shot that hit Williston goalie Greg Iverson in the mask and popped into the slot. A fortuitous bounce put the puck on another Salisbury player’s stick and he slammed it home for a 1-0 lead. Salisbury would score two more goals in the next minute forcing Williston coach Derek Cunha to call a time-out and replace Iverson with Xander Rogers. Rogers was tested early and only relinquished one goal at around the 14:00 mark.
Williston, however, was not going to go down without a fight. With just over a minute left in the period, Williston defenseman Tim Rego cleared the puck up the right wall just outside the blue line. A Salisbury defensemen went to collect the puck and post-graduate Logan Geisness powered though him taking the puck from him and racing like a stallion out of the gates at the Kentucky Derby down the right wing; at the top of the right circle he sliced gingerly toward the middle of the ice and let a blast go beating the Salisbury goalie, far side, closing the gap to 4-1.
In the second period, Tim Rego cut the Salisbury lead to two. Rego gathered the puck in his own end near the dot to the right of Rogers and hit the gas—Rego exploded down the right wing, entered the zone and, using the Salisbury defender as a screen, nipped the top right corner, beating the Salisbury ‘tender with ease. Unfortunately, the Wildcats would be forced to play much of the second period down a man due to some questionable penalty calls. Rogers and the Williston penalty killing units stifled a barrage of chances and shots, sending both teams to the dressing room with a 4-2 score.
The third period would see plenty of opportunities for both clubs including a number of pointblank bids by the Williston offense, including a couple of posts and breakaways, but to no avail.
While Williston lost the war in this contest, they continued to grow and become more and more seasoned. Next up for Williston are the Penguins from Cushing Academy who will travel down interstate 91 on Wednesday, December 6th at 3:30 at Lossone Arena. Good seats are still available so bring the wife and kids down to the old hockey barn!