by Team Reporter Nate Gordon ’16
In the last eight days, Williston Boys Hockey 12-8-2 has played four road games with just one day of rest and practice between each one. Each of those four games was decided by two or fewer goals. In this span, the Wildcats have won two games, tied one, and lost one. In this last part of the regular season, every game can change the team’s destiny, which is, the team hopes, to land a spot in the playoffs.
This past Monday, the Wildcats played Westminster in a game that was originally scheduled for February 2nd. Williston defeated the Martlets in thrilling fashion. With less than five minutes to play and on the power play, the Wildcats were cycling the puck around the offensive zone when senior forward Jared Karas took a slapshot that when between the Martlet’s goaltender’s legs and into the back of the net.
Karas said, “I was just up at the point there and it was Rourke [Ferguson] ’15, [Brandon] Bork ’15, and [Tyler] Scroggins ’15 down low really working the puck. Scroggins came out with the puck and dragged the whole other team to him and then he just slid it to me. It was just a great play by those guys. I just waited for the puck to come and put it on net.”
Westminster was one of the fastest teams the Wildcats have faced this season. The Martlets were also exceptional at moving the puck and making passes that opened up space for themselves. But at its best, which the team was on Monday, Williston can match the level of play of any team. Although the Wildcats entered the third period down by a goal, they certainly were not out of the game.
Williston Head Coach Mr. Derek Cunha said after the win, “I think we’re maturing as a team because we’re playing the fifty-four minutes…At no point in that game, especially in that third period, was I worried about time winding down. You guys played very well today. I’m really proud of the effort.” He added, “It’s not pretty how we’ve been winning these games. It’s not tic-tac-toe passing, but we are scoring goals, you guys are wearing down [opponents]. That is our identity, that is how we have to play every single game.”
Junior defenseman Brad Budman was a player in this game who made a positive difference for the Wildcats. Like his defensive partner, Chris Dumont ’15, Budman played offensively helping the team to bring the puck into the offensive zone.
About his and the team’s play, Budman said after the game, “I just felt very really good before the game. [My teammates] were moving the puck to me. It’s huge, definitely a confidence booster [moving towards] the playoffs beating a team like Westy.”
In today’s game at Canterbury, the Wildcats were unable to conjure up the same magic. Holding a 3-2 lead at the start of the third period, the Saints scored just over five minutes into the period.
Despite both teams getting chances to break the tie, the game went to overtime and ended as a draw. The Wildcats beat themselves in this game as they went to the penalty box nine times. The last time Williston played Canterbury this season was back on November 22nd. The Wildcats won the season-opener 5-2.
Senior defenseman Chris Dumont scored the second and third goals in the game for the Wildcats today. A very offensive player, Dumont leads Williston defensemen with five goals and fifteen assists. He is second on the team in points.
With a few Wildcats not playing due to injury and sickness, every other member was called on to make a contribution to this game. One of them was sophomore Connor Lynch. In his first year on the team, Lynch gets occasional shifts on defense, but today he saw increased action on the ice as a forward. In the final minutes, he helped create scoring chances.
Lynch said after the game about his bigger role today, “You know, I wasn’t really expecting it, I was just sitting on the bench per usual and coach came up to me and said, ‘You’re in.’ I was just trying to make a difference out there.”
With a lethal power play, Canterbury scored two of its three goals with the man advantage. The Saints did start the third period with a 5-on-3 power play and got another advantage midway through the finalperiod, but they could not get the puck past Williston’s defense.
In a push for the playoffs, the Wildcats have won six of their last eight games. They have five games left against opponents with a combined 31-53-7 record.
In just two days, the Wildcats will take on Deerfield in the teams’ annual rivalry game. Last season, the game was held at Deerfield, but this year Williston expects a big crowd to give them the edge at home. For this game, the team is selling “Beat Deerfield” shirts with the proceeds going to Movember, an organization that works to improve the health of men living with serious health issues.
In anticipation of this game, Dumont ’15 said today, “It’s Deerfield so it’s obviously going to mean something, but the fact that [the game] has playoff factors, it makes it even more special and we hope that our fans come out and get rowdy for us. We’re going to feed off their energy.”