The title for this piece is a stick-tap to John Adams, class of ’64 who spoke to the Williston hockey team in the dressing room before yesterday’s Albany game. He later sent a picture of his yearbook with this heading. As the coaching staff read the article, we were amazed at all of the similarities of that team and this year’s club: the Williston’s team’s ice surface (they played on the pond that year—their final season because Lossone was built) gave Coach Carpenter fits; we are playing in a tournament with twenty-five minute halves where near the end of a period looks like a week’s worth of pond hockey on the Erie Canal. They had three returners; we have seven. They had two returning defensemen; and we have two returners. They needed to focus on the defensive zone and let the offense figure itself out; and so do we. They had a brand new goaltender; we have two fresh faces. The similarities were eerie, but as Coach Cunha talked to the team before the start of the game, he reiterated that nearly 50+ years later, things couldn’t be more similar. Adams noted in his email what an honor it was to speak to our group and was thankful for the opportunity and so were we.
After the 3-0 loss to Albany last night, the Williston seniors and in particular, our captains, took it upon themselves to figure things out. They spoke openly and calmly listening to their teammates as they discussed what needed to change. Whatever was said in the closed-door team-only meeting had a great impression on the entire group because Williston came out today energized and focused taking the 11 am game 7-1 over Winchendon School.
The game started with Williston adhering to their systems and their game plan as they hounded Winchendon in the offensive zone creating turnovers and scoring opportunities. The first goal came at the 12:28 mark of the period when David Novotny took a puck along his own half wall and made a perfect pass to Brendan Nehmer who skated through the neutral zone, broke into the Winchendon side, cut to his left and let a quick wrister go that beat the Wapiti goalie on the far right post.
Winchendon scored six minutes later on a breakaway that just beat on outstretched Trevor Corsello under his right pad near the post. Williston responded thirteen seconds later when Mitchell Hansen punched a puck into the left corner to a waiting James Belleavoine who made a move to skate behind the net; he then made a back-diagonal pass to an open Cam Mariani who roofed the puck past the Winchendon’s goalie’s right glove.
Williston got their final of the period when Tim Rego got a pass from Jake Sacratini and blasted a shot that was tipped by Novotny at the 5:41 mark. The Wildcats went to the dressing room up, 3-1.
In the second half, Williston continued where they left off after the first when Mariani scored his second of the game on the 4×3 power play. Belleavoine took a shot that hit the post but the rebound came to Mariani in the high slot who buried it past the scrambling Winchendon goalie. Williston scored their fifth of the game on the power play when Sacratini conjured some Montreal Magic as he drove low around the left side and put a puck that found the back of the net. Rego and Mariani got the helpers.
Williston got their sixth goal, again on the power play, when Rego let a rocket go that beat Winchendon goalie under his glove. Nehmer and Mariani were awarded the assists. Mariani notched a hat trick when, on a 4×3 power play, Belleavoine hit him on the back post where he buried his chance.
The game puck went to Mariani for his five-point performance. Corsello came up big on a number of occasions making 23 saves. Williston had 30 shots. Another impressive stat for the Wildcats was their 26-5 on faceoffs.
Williston will rest for the remainder of the day and take on the Brunswick Bruins tomorrow at 11 am. Brunswick ended Williston’s playoff run last year in the quarterfinals, 2-0 going on to win the Large School Championship. We hope to see you at St. Sebs tomorrow!