Williston won their third and fourth games in-a-row on Saturday and Monday defeating the Brunswick Bruins 6-2 and the Westminster Martlets 3-1. The wins improved Williston’s record to 8-10-1 and moved them closer to the playoff conversation, though there is much more hockey left to play in the season.
With the Bruins visiting Lossone on Saturday, Williston looked to add to their two-game winning streak with number three. Two hours after the start time, it happened.
Williston got the ball rolling at 2:25 of the first period when Jake Sacratini bumped a pass from the top of the right circle to Tim Rego at the point; the captain let a shot go as he was drifting backwards that beat Brunswick goalie Dan Dachille over his shoulder. A well-timed screen by Tommy Harty allowed the floater to hit the back of the net undetected.
Five minutes later, Sacratini found his name on the goal side of the score sheet when he chased a Brunswick defender into the offensive zone, applied great pressure that worked a puck to the front of the net. Linemate Brendan Nehmer got a stick on the puck that ping-ponged around until center Matt Pimental chopped a backhand on Dachille that was saved; eventually, it squeaked out to Sacratini on his forehand who drove the puck into an open net.
Cam Mariani made it a 3-0 game with just under three minutes left in the period when he picked off a pass with his glove at the Williston blue line and sped in on a breakaway. His initial shot was saved by Dachille but he could not control the rebound. The puck sailed three feet straight up and rolled in off his back. The ‘Cats went into the dressing room with the lead.
In the second, Brunswick finally got on the board early in the period when they went guns blazing on Williston. The period ended, 3-1.
In the third, Williston began to run away with it. Matt Pimental got the puck deep on the left side of the ice and forechecked like the mighty winds off of Lake Ontario during a polar vortex. Coupled with his aggressiveness was the other guy who knows bone-chilling gales, Jack Purcell, who also pursued the puck behind the net. Pimental created space for himself in front and received a Purcell-pass on the doorstep; he shifted left, drove right and slipped a pretty backhander past Dachille.
Williston got their fifth goal of the game when Shaul Mitton skated hard into the offensive zone, forced a turnover at the half-wall that was picked up by Harty who drove hard to the goal line from just above the bottom of the circle. A Bruin defenseman stepped up to him but winger David Novotny drove from the corner next to Harty who shoveled him a pass. Novotny took no time and buried the puck under the crossbar.
Brunswick would get a second goal on the power play, but Hunter Sarro put the knife in the heart of the Bruins when he received a pass from roommate James Belleavoine on the most selfless play of the season. Belleavoine drove into the zone on a three-on-one, passed up a sure goal on the empty net, and slid the puck to his Sarro. The play epitomized the selfless play of the Wildcats on this day and earned him the game puck.
Williston outshot the Bruins, 29-24. In addition, Williston blocked twenty Bruin shots.
Thank God for Western Mass Hockey Players
Williston journeyed down to Connecticut on Monday to take on the Westminster Martlets in what has become an epic battle of Route 10. The Martlets were riding a five-game win streak into the game, were 8-1-1 in their last ten games, and had just been ranked #6 in New England that day. This did not deter the Wildcats, and especially two seniors born and raised in the Pioneer Valley.
Brendan Nehmer got Williston on the board first when he blocked a shot, used his speed to out-race a Westy defender to spring himself on a breakaway, and beat Westminster’s Ian Shane on the right side.
In the 2nd period Nehmer got his second of the game when he drove up the right side of the ice, cut to the middle of the Westminster zone and let a wrist shot go from just inside the blue, beating Shane glove-side. Alex Berg and Tommy Harty were awarded the assists. Then, just a few minutes later, James Belleavoine got a puck to Cam Mariani on the left side of the neutral zone who drove on a semi-breakaway and beat Shane on the short side. Shane was pulled for Bennett Ostern.
In the third, Williston weathered a Martlet onslaught, being outshot 18-1. Kyler Breland stood up to the task letting only one goal by. It should be noted that while the Wildcats did not mount much offense in the period, their defensive zone coverage allowed Breland to see most of the Westy shots, and any rebounds given up were quickly swept away by the Williston boys.
Westminster took it to Williston for much of the game, outshooting them 42-11. However, Williston’s defensive play including that of Breland and the ability to bury their few chances were the game-changers. Breland was awarded the game puck. Williston blocked sixteen Westminster shots.
Williston takes on its third Nutmeg-state opponent in three games, Loomis Chaffee, today at 4:30 in Easthampton. This is the final game before a well-deserved Winter Long Weekend so please come support your ‘Cats!
On the Wednesday before Long Weekend, the Loomis Chaffee Pelicans came to Lossone for a late-afternoon tilt with the Wildcats. Williston was looking to extend its win streak to five games but a feisty and talented Loomis team put an end to that bid. Despite a closely contested game for 51 minutes, Williston eventually dropped the matchup, 5-1.
Williston got on the board at the 16:37 mark of the first period on the power play when Tim Rego made a pass on the top of the power play to his left side to Cam Mariani; Mariani let a low shot go that was blocked by Loomis goalie Kyle Chauvette. The pass deflected to the right faceoff dot where Hunter Sarro collected the puck and buried the rebound putting the Wildcats up 1-0. Unfortunately, that would be all the offense they would get as Chauvette shut the door on any other opportunities.
Loomis scored five straight goals including two in the second and three in the third. Down 2-1 with about 3 minutes to go in the game, Williston’s attention drifted towards soon pulling the goalie to tie it up with the extra skater. That plan was foiled when Loomis created a low turnover and capitalized making it 3-1. An empty-net goal followed by a last minute tally quickly turned a 2-1 game into a 5-1 defeat. Shots were 30-28 in favor of the Wildcats.
Williston returns to action on Wednesday at Northfield Mount
Hermon at 3pm. We are experiencing a bit of a heat wave in these parts so a full snow suit will not be necessary at NMH’s partially enclosed outdoor complex. Hope to see you there!