All posts by dcunha

Williston Upends Canterbury, 3-1

The Williston boys’ hockey team started the New Year when the Saints of Canterbury came marching into town this past Wednesday.  Williston took the opening game of the two-game series, 3-1, and inched even closer to the .500 mark on the season.

Greg Iverson got the nod in net for the first time since before Christmas vacation when he helped defeat Academie St.Louis, 5-1 on December 9.  He did not disappoint the eager Williston faithful.

The first period was tightly contested as Canterbury had a game plan and stuck with it nicely.  Canterbury ran a well-played 2-3 forecheck that initially stymied the Williston team as they continued to get hemmed into their own zone.  However, a mid-period tactical alteration opened up the zone and allowed Williston the opportunity to break out consistently.  For much of the period, play was tight with few grade-A scoring opportunities as both teams were trying to feel one another out.  At the horn, both teams retreated to their dressing rooms with the game knotted at zeroes.

The opening minutes of periods have, at times, been killers for the Williston Wildcats and Canterbury took advantage 53-seconds into the second frame.  Williston won an offfensive zone faceoff on the left side to our defenseman who let a cannon go but missed the net.  With the puck careening around the boards, another Williston player unsuccessfully attempted to keep the puck in the zone which sent away Canterbury’s Nick Parody—who interestingly enough, needed his skates sharpened between periods.  The job was left to assistant coach Kyle Hanford, who, upon giving Parody’s skates back to their coaching staff commented: “If he gets a goal, he better mention me to the papers.”  Time will tell if that came true.  Either way, the Wildcats were down, 1-0 early in the second period.  Parody blasted down the left wing on a two-on-one and was able to beat Iverson near-side putting the Saints up 1-0.

Williston would even up the score on a power play bid when senior Nick Schofield let a shot go from the high slot forcing Canterbury goalie Dan Seitz to make the initial save, however, he could not corral the rebound and a heads up hustle play by sophomore Tim Rego on the crease shuffled the puck to a patient JoJo Carbone who netted his fifth goal of the year at 10:49 of the second period.  Williston and Canterbury continued to trade jabs but to no avail and both teams entered their dressing rooms tied 1-1.

The third period was a continuation of the first two periods with both teams and both goaltenders making play after play, save after save, with some great chances coupled with some great saves. The Wildcats finally solved the tie when a hard working Steven Gower muscled his way with the puck through the neutral zone and let go a shot that got parlayed into the corner.  However, strong work by Kyle Caddo and Kevin Lassman eventually lead to the puck bouncing sweetly onto senior Owen Sylvia’s stick.  Upon collecting the puck, the Dartmouth, MA native took two strides off-center to the right of the goal and was able to beat the outstretched arms of Seitz putting the boys in blue up 2-1.

The Wildcats would take an unfortunate too many men on the ice penalty with 1 minute left in the game. With Seitz pulled for the extra attacker the Williston PK core of Gower, Nick Day, Brendan Hansen, and Sam Milnes were up to the task to defend. Milnes would end the game on an empty net goal.  Milnes lives by a strict “empty net goals are soft” credo and thus his celebration was one of little jubilation.  Still, Williston won, 3-1 with Iverson getting his third win of the season and stopping 35 shots.  Sylvia received the game puck and earned the right to lead the boys in the singing of “Sammy” sung in the dressing room upon every win.

This Saturday, the Wildcats take on a very skilled Berkshire School at Lossone Arena at 3.15.  Very good seats are still available.

 

Wildcats Can’t Duplicate Earlier Feat Versus St. Sebs; Nobles Wins

Before it was time to say goodbye to an auspicious 2016 for the Williston boys hockey team—a November and December that saw Williston defeat Salisbury, Gunnery, and St. Sebastians—the Wildcats headed down the Mass Pike for two final games—one, a rematch against St. Sebastians, and the other against traditional New England power, Noble and Greenough School.

In the first game versus St. Sebastians in Needham, the boys fought valiantly but produced zero goals losing to the Arrows, 1-0.  Xander Rogers got the nod once again in net for Williston having defeated Sebs 2-1 in overtime before Christmas break in the St. Sebastian’s Holiday Tournament.  The first period saw Williston come out sluggish with little giddy-up, and just 2:04 into the game, Sebs’ senior captain Brendan Goostray scored the first and only goal of the contest beating Rogers between his pads.  The first period was rather lackluster for the Wildcats as they went to the dressing room down.  After a spirited pick-me-up from head coach Derek Cunha, Williston worked hard and showed resilience through the final two frames but it was for naught.  Even an eighteen shot outburst by Williston in third period could not help the boys from Easthampton.

The next day Williston traveled to Nobles and came out on the losing end of a 4-2 contest.  This game saw senior Donny Battimelli get his third start of the year in net.  Nobles took the lead early in the fisrt period when a Nobles player took a shot from the right inside hashmark that hit Battimelli in the head.  The puck dropped by his feet and Sean Wrenn was on the doorstep for an easy tap-in goal.  Nobles would head to the first intermission ahead 1-0.

Nobles got its second goal of the game early in the second period when a shot was taken on the left faceoff dot.  Battimelli made the initial save and deflected the puck in the corner.  A Nobles winger scooped up the puck and drove hard to the other side of the net and made a cross-crease pass that Zach Janfaza buried.  Williston looked defeated for a time but on the power play with 3:01 left in the second, Brendan White took a puck from the right corner and used his big 6-2 frame and jammed the puck at the feet of goalie Matt Lane; the puck took a fortuitous bounce and hit the mesh at the top of the net.  The period ended with Nobles leading 2-1.

Once again the beginning of periods was not good for Williston on this day and in the third Nobles winger Sean Wrenn took advantage.  Driving down the right wing, with senior defenseman Mike D’Ambrosio in front of him, Wrenn stepped over the blue line and let a shot go on net that beat Battimelli over the blocker giving Nobles a 3-1 lead.  However, a little over two minutes later, White was back to his old tricks, this time driving from the left corner and finding a small opening between Lane’s pad and the post cutting Nobles’ lead to one.  However, Nobles’ Ryan Stevens, son of former BC and NHL star, Kevin Stevens, gathered a bumbled puck at their own blue line and went down on a breakaway gingerly sliding the puck between Battimelli’s pads for the fourth and final goal by either team.  While Williston mounted intense pressure at the end of the game, Matt Lane stood tall to the task.

Williston has lost 4 or its last five but looks to rebound early in the New Year when they take on Canterbury at Lossone on Wednesday, January 5th at 4.  See you there.

 

Williston Beats Number 10 Ranked St. Sebs; Loses to Rivers and Thayer

As many Williston students packed their bags and headed for home on Friday, December 16, the Williston Boys’ Hockey Team loaded up the busses and headed to the St. Sebastian’s Holiday Tournament to take on host, the St. Sebastians Arrows in Needham, MA.  Xander Rogers was named the starter of the game thanks to his performance against Gunnery less than a week before as the Wildcats took the ice against a riotous student section and with families, friends, coaches and scouts looking on.

Williston opened the scoring 1:11 into the first period when a hard-forecheck by JoJo Carbone led to a takeover in front of the St. Sebastian net; Carbone corralled the puck and took a quick shot beating senior goaltender Alex Zafonte over his glove giving the Williston faithful reason to cheer.  The rest of the period would be back and forth with Rogers and Zafonte trading saves.

The second period began with weak defensive play by the Wildcats leading to the Arrows first and only goal.  With St. Sebastian’s hemming Williston into their own zone, freshman forward Liam Connors came out of the corner untouched and backhanded a nifty goal over Rogers shoulder to tie the game 1-1.  The period would remain dead-locked as the two clubs would head to overtime.

The overtime frame began with St. Sebastians coming out the gate with vengeance entering the zone and getting a great shot on net from the right point, through a screen, that Rogers was able to waffle-board away.  Play went back and forth for a short time until senior Owen Sylvia broke into the St. Sebs end and let a shot go that was blocked by Zafonte only to have the puck bounce fortuitously onto senior Steven Gower’s stick who let a quick snap shot go over the outstretched glove of Zafonte.  It was a gutsy win and the first overtime victory for Williston in more than a year.  The player of the game for the Wildcats was Gower.  Rogers stopped 24/25 shots on the day.  The win would put Williston into the winner’s bracket of the tournament where they would play Thayer the next day at 3pm.

A win against Thayer would put the Wildcats into the championship game for the first time in many years but sadly, it was not to be on this day as the Wildcats could only muster one goal and give up five to a strong Thayer club.  The first line of Thayer, Jay O’Brien (Providence), Casey Carreau (Boston College), and Aiden McDonough (Undecided) proved to be too much for the Wildcats figuring in three of Thayer’s five goals.  The lone goal for Williston came as JoJo Carbone beat junior goalie, Jimmy Scannell cutting the Thayer lead to 2-1 midway through the second half.  Unfortunately for Williston, this would be as close as they would get as Thayer would answer right back and then add two late goals.  Rogers saved 37/42 shots for the loss.

On Sunday, the Wildcats played Rivers School at 1pm losing 3-0.  Down 1-0 heading into the second half, a five-minute major against Williston proved to be too much for the squad as they allowed two goals in that span.  Williston could never get any offense going as they were thwarted time and time again by a strong Rivers team.  Donnie Battimelli made 30/33 for the loss.

Williston is off until December 30 when the travel back to Boston and take on St. Sebastians in Needham, MA.  This writer would like to wish all a Happy Holidays.

Williston Strikes Again—Takes Down New England Champions, Gunnery

Williston Strikes Again—Takes Down New England Champions, Gunnery

10 December 2016

Saturday nights at Lossone Arena have been good to the Williston Wildcats early in this 2016-2017 season.  Last Saturday, the Wildcats brought Salisbury to their knees with a 6-1 victory (December 3).  This Saturday, the Highlanders of Gunnery saw the same fate, losing to the boys in green and blue, 4-1.  For Williston, it was their first win over Gunnery in nineteen games dating back to January of 2003.  Williston entered the contest looking to rebound from a 6-2 defeat at the hands of Cushing on Wednesday night, while Gunnery was coming off of a convincing win over Exeter, 4-1.

Williston got on the board at the 5:07 mark when senior JT Chamberlain won an offensive draw on the right side to junior Connor Power who let a dandy of a shot go from the point.  Senior winger Nick Day was able to get a stick on the shot that deflected off Gunnery goalie Cedric Andree’s pad only to bounce onto the fortuitous stick of Chamberlain who banged in the rebound passed a sprawling Andree.  Williston would add to their lead 12 minutes later with under a minute to go in the period when Chamberlain again found the back of the net on a blast from inside the blue line.  Seniors Day and Steven Gower were credited with the helpers.

In the second, Gunnery attempted to ride their high-powered offense to cut the lead but junior goalie, Xander Rogers, was up to the task kicking out all shots he faced.  Both teams were assessed a number of penalties in the period and both penalty kills proved successful.  While it looked like the period would end with Williston hanging on to a 2-0 lead, sophomore Kevin Lassman intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and make a shifty dish to senior Nick Schofield who zipped a pass across to junior Sam Milnes. Milnes let it fly with a quick snap shot that may or may not have hit the back post under the crossbar. While the officials did not see the goal, they didn’t miss Schofield shuffling in the rebound.  While attempts to go to Toronto for goal review failed, the Wildcats had a comfortable lead going into the dressing room after the second.

Early in the third, Sam Milnes all but sealed the win when he let a rocket of a shot go from the right circle beating Andree over his left shoulder.  While the third period was offensively controlled by Gunnery, to this writer, it was Williston’s commitment to selfless defense that stymied their attempts.  While Gunnery was able to best Williston in shots, they only generated a few quality scoring chances.  Williston defenders blocked countless shots and Rogers stood tall making 37 saves.  Gunnery was able to get on the board with six seconds left in the third on the power play but the damage was already done securing another rendezvous at the victory bell after the game.

Xander Rogers was awarded the game puck for his efforts.  Williston is now 3-2, their best record in years.  The Wildcats are off this Wednesday but resume play Friday afternoon at the St. Sebastian’s Holiday Tournament in Needham, MA versus the host school.  Puck drops at 4pm.

***

On Friday night, the Williston Wildcats defeated Academic St. Louis, 5-1 at Lossone Arena.  Junior Billy Smith lead the way with 1 goal and three assist, followed by Senior JoJo Carbone with a goal and two assists.  Brendan Hansen netted two goals, won 17-21 faceoffs, blocked countless shots from the point and earned the game puck.  Greg Iverson got the win kicking out 21/22 shots.

Williston Falls to Cushing

Williston Falls to Cushing

On Wednesday afternoon, the Williston boys’ hockey team traveled to Ashburnham, MA to take on the Cushing Penguins but came up on the losing end of a 6-2 final.

Sophomore Greg Iverson got the nod in net for this matchup and while he made a valiant effort making ten strong saves, he allowed three goals and was relieved after nine minutes into the first period.  In short, the defensive effort was not what it was on Saturday night and after a timeout, junior Xander Rogers entered the game.

After the short respite, Williston came back rejuvenated and mounted sustained pressure with multiple scoring chances while Cushing took multiple icings in hopes of gaining back the momentum.  Cushing’s Andrew Engel played exceptionally well during this flurry and Williston failed to find the back of the net.  The period ended with Cushing holding onto a 3-0 lead.

The second period began with Williston continuing to mount the pressure on the Penguins and at 5:49 of the period, senior Brendan White blocked a shot from the point that deflected to senior linemate Nick Schofield.  White took off out of the zone and was gifted a pass by Schofield sending him on a breakaway with two Cushing defensemen three strides behind.  White streaked in on Engle and beat him between the pads to cut the lead to two.

Less than three minutes later, Williston struck again, this time with a strong forecheck effort by junior Billy Smith who stole the puck from a defender in the mid-slot, just right of Engel. While Engel was able to make a pad save on Smith’s shot, a fortuitous bounce to senior Jojo Carbone on the left post put the Wildcats to within one.  However, less than two minutes later, Cushing forward Alec Andreucci separated himself from a Williston defender in the left slot and found a space above Roger’s right shoulder to put the Penguins up 4-2.

The third period saw Cushing put two more goals away sealing the deal for Cushing who improved to 1-2-1 on the season. Rogers, who came in relief, finished the night with 30 saves.

While the Wildcats were disappointed by their effort for the night, they must regroup quickly with only one day of practice separating them from Academie St. Louis on Friday night at 7pm and Gunnery on Saturday night at 6pm both a Lossone.  Williston hopes to regain their winning ways over the weekend.

 

Williston Stuns New England Powerhouse, Salisbury, 6-1

Williston Stuns New England Powerhouse, Salisbury, 6-1

On Saturday night, the Williston boy’s hockey team soundly defeated the Salisbury Crimson Knights 6-1 in the Wildcats home opener.  The teams entered the campaign riding two vastly different waves into Lossone Rink; just seventy-two hours earlier, Salisbury defeated Founders League rival Taft with a convincing 5-0 win, while the Wildcats were licking the wounds of a 7-1 defeat to Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire.

Early in the first period it looked as if Salisbury was going to use the momentum of their Wednesday victory by controlling the play off the draw putting solid pressure on the boys in blue.  However, Williston settled in quickly and at the 16 minute mark, senior Brendan White got the ‘Cats on the board with his first goal of the season, a power play, assisted by senior Mike D’Ambrosio and new Junior Jake Durocher. Six-and-a-half minutes later on a power play, Durocher scored on a quick snapshot from the left circle-top with a nifty pass from Schofield to put the Wildcats up 2-0.  The period was back and forth and the Wildcats entered the dressing room leading.

The second period was dominated by Salisbury who, with excellent transition work and the help of a number of power play opportunities, peppered new sophomore goalie, Greg Iverson, with shots, early and often.  The Williston penalty kill was up to the challenge and with 7:24 left in the period and killing another penalty, junior Sam Milnes intercepted a Salisbury pass and powered his way down the ice to the net, cutting across the crease and beating Trinity-bound goalie Nick Sorgio on a deceptive backhand to forehand move putting the Wildcats up 3-0.  Salisbury continued to pressure Williston but could not solve the riddle of Iverson.  The period ended with Williston holding onto the lead.

With a renewed sense of urgency, Salisbury opened the third period with a hard-working goal by Jacques Bouquot assisted by Alex D’Paolo just fourteen seconds in.  The Williston faithful secretly wondered if Salisbury had found the Wildcat’s number but at 11:47 on the power play Jake Durocher wheeled with the puck in the zone and made a touch pass to second-year senior Owen Silvia, camped out on the bottom of the right circle, who found Nick Schofield streaking to the far post.  Schofield one-timed the pass by Sorgio and Williston’s lead was 4-1.  A little over five minutes later, new junior, Billy Smith, made an almost identical pass to Schofield on the far post beating Sorgio near-side to put Williston up 5-1.  Williston put the proverbial nail-in-the-coffin with 3:24 left in the game when Smith took a shot in the low slot from Sam Milnes that got caught under Sorgio’s pad but Milnes jammed in the rebound.  The game would end in 6-1 victory for Williston.

For his 52 save effort, Iverson garnered the player of the game sending the Wildcats to the victory bell for its first win of the season.

Williston is headed to Ashburnham, MA this Wednesday for a 4:45 tilt against another New England powerhouse, the Penguins of Cushing Academy.  Williston will be back at Lossone on Friday night against Academie St. Louis from Quebec on Friday night at 7 and on Saturday night at 6 against defending New England champions, the Gunnery Highlanders.  Good seats are still available for both contests.