by Team Beat Writer & Reporter-Nate Gordon
In a game marred by penalties, Williston wasn’t able to add to its early lead until it was too late. The Wildcat were defeated for the first time this season by the defending New England Division 1 Champion, Salisbury.
Both teams came out playing very physically. With just under four minutes left, it seemed as if Salisbury would take the first lead in the game, but the goal was called off when the refs decided a Salisbury player had used his hand to swat the puck into the goal.
Two minutes later, junior forward Brandon Bork of Williston scored on a beautiful pass right in front of Salisbury’s net. The pass came from junior forward Tyler Scroggins, who received the puck from senior defenseman and team Nick Staub.
A total of five penalties occurred in the first eighteen minutes, the least of any period. Four of those penalties resulted in Williston going on the power play.
During the first intermission, Williston Head Coach Derek Cunha told his team to play the way they have been practicing. “Stick to what we know, stick to what we do,” said Cunha. Cunha said that to win the game, the team must play hard for the rest of the game. “This is going to be an absolute fight for the next thirty-six minutes.” He also reminded his players to stay out of trouble after the whistle.
In the second period, the game settled down and became less chippy, though the penalties continued. With 16:37 left on the clock, Williston went on the first power play of the period when a Salisbury player was sent to the box for a five-minute major. Just over three minutes into the power play, Williston junior forward Chris Dumont was called for a slash when a Salisbury player was on a breakaway.
Six minutes later, while on the power play, Salisbury came back to tie the game on a rebound from a shot close to the left side of the goal.
Two minutes later, again on the power play, Salisbury took the lead on another rebound goal. The same Salisbury line scored the team’s first two goals. Just 16 seconds later, once again on the power play, Salisbury added to its lead on a wraparound goal.
Thirty seconds later, senior forward and team captain Max Willman scored on a wrist shot, which was assisted by sophomore defenseman Nick Garofano and senior forward and captain Phil Angelo.
After the goal, the two teams had an altercation that resulted in one minor misconduct for each team.
The theme of this second period was Williston being unable to kill penalties, which were aplenty, and the Wildcats being unable to take advantage on the power play.
After the game, Williston assistant coach Kyle Hanford said, “When they scored a goal, it just kind of deflated us a little bit, but I’m really proud of the way the guys came back and continued to battle on. You know, it just didn’t happened today.”
Team captain Nick Staub after the game spoke about the team’s mentality after Salisbury scored quick goals. “A little depressed, but I mean we were ready to bounce back right away and we got a little unlucky on the penalty kill, but we found a way to battle and give it our all.”
Williston went into the third period down one goal, looking to at least get one point in the standings by sending the game to overtime. Before the period, Cunha told his players that the team that wins will be the one that keeps its emotions in check.
Sixteen seconds into the third period it seemed as if Salisbury would take a three-goal lead, but the refs called the goal off, saying a Salisbury player had “high-sticked” to knock a puck in that had bounced off the cross bar.
For almost ten minutes, in between 16:12 and 6:38, Williston successfully killed two cross-checking penalties and one high-sticking penalty.
With under 1:50 left on the clock, Williston decided to pull its senior goaltender, Tim Nowacki to put an extra skater on the ice. Nowacki had thirty five saves on thirty-eight shots.
At the end, Williston desperately tried to score in the final seconds. Williston had four players on the ice, with its goalie pulled, and Salisbury had just three players due to penalties.
Salisbury Head Coach Andrew Will said after the game, “Both teams played extremely hard and I think the big thing for us was that we continue to do a lot of the little things. With all the penalties and special teams, that was a big thing that separated us. We’re definitely going to have to be more disciplined. We took ten penalties, that’s too many. We got to stay out of the penalty box.”
Although this game was a loss, it gave Williston the confidence that they could play with the best teams in the league.
This upcoming Wednesday, the Wildcats will take on Cushing Academy at home at 4:30. Cushing was ranked number eight in Hockey Night in Boston News 2013/14 Prep School Preview Edition’s poll.