In-depth coverage of Williston boys varsity hockey

Wildcats Defeat Canterbury on the Road, Setting High Bar for Season

The Wildcats celebrating the win over Canterbury.
The Wildcats celebrating the win over Canterbury.

by Nate Gordon’16

The Wildcats defeated the Canterbury Saints 4-2 on Saturday, November 23, 2013, to pick up a big road victory in the first game of the season. This win was critical for setting the tone before getting a week off for Thanksgiving break.

As Coach Cunha said before the game, “We only worry about playing today. But I tell you right now that if you guys want to be playing in March, these two points are very important…For the next two hours, you are dialed in to this rink, to this locker room, to these guys that are around you.”

The Wildcats had control of the puck in their offensive zone for much of the first period. Just three minutes into the game, a Canterbury defensemen was sent to the penalty box for hooking. This was the first of eleven total penalties in the game. Williston had many opportunities on this power play, including a shot that got past the Canterbury goaltender, but slid just inches wide of the goal post.

Senior forward Max Willman put Williston on the board with just under nine minutes left in the first period. He skated down the left side of the rink, put a move on the goalie, and scored. The goal was assisted by junior forward Brandon Borges.

With five minutes left in the first period, Williston was called for a hooking penalty while a Canterbury player was on a breakaway. This gave the Saints their first real scoring opportunity. Senior Williston goalie Tim Nowacki saved a backhand attempt by the Canterbury player. This was just one of 35 saves Nowacki had in the game.

Nowacki said after the game that “it’s a good first game of the season, obviously, on the road, it’s always tough to do. It felt great, we jumped on them early, that was really important. From there, we just kept on rolling.”

With three minutes left in the period, junior forward Will Flynn added to Williston’s lead when he scored off of a rebound of his own shot. The goal was assisted by junior forwards Tyler Scroggins and Justin Lindsay.

During the first intermission, Coach Cunha told the team, “When we score a goal, yeah, we get excited, but then we lock it right back down in terms of the focus. We can’t get too high when we score a goal, or too low when we give up one. We go even keel and negate the highs, negate the lows.”

The first intermission ended up taking half an hour due to a Zamboni malfunction. However, this did not seem to affect either team noticeably in the second period.

Canterbury started the second period on the power play, one of six the Wildcats killed in the game.

With just under 15 minutes to play in the second period, the Wildcats increased their lead to three. Junior forward Jack Gethings had the puck in the corner of Williston’s offensive zone when he passed it to senior defensemen Seth Cupak, who unleashed a wrist shot from the slot, which netted the puck.

The Wildcats thought they had scored a fourth goal with under two minutes in the period when the puck found its way to the back of the net. The referees, though, said the puck was kicked in by a Williston player.

Coach Cunha told his team to stay focused in the last period and to close out the game. “You’ve won the first period, you won the second. Win the third period, win the hockey game. It’s as easy as that. Do not give them a sniff to think that they are in this hockey game. Finish what you started,” said Cunha.

Although, the Wildcats lossed the third period 1-2 in goals, the team had done enough in the first two period to never let the game become truly close. Cupak said after the game, “It felt really good [to get the win], we came out strong in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Second and first we came out real good, third was a little flat.”

Three goals were scored with less than 2:10 left in the game. At 2:01, Canterbury senior forward Connor Henry netted a rebound. With 48 seconds left, Williston forward Kyle Hall scored an unassisted empty-net goal. Then, with 2.5 seconds left, Cantebury freshman Mathieu Gervais poked the puck into the goal with many bodies in front of Williston’s net.

Ultimately, Canterbury was never able to control the puck in Williston’s defensive zone. The Saints’ scoring opportunities came off odd-man rushes in transition.

Coach Cunha said after the game that “we gave ourselves enough wiggle room. With that effort [in the 3rd period], I hope it leaves a little bit of a sour taste in our mouths, knowing that we did not finish on a good note. That you’re just itching to get back here and get even better.” You guys can be good, you guys can be very good this year.”

After the team gets back from the Thanksgiving break, it will begin a four game home stand, starting with Kimball Union Academy on Wednesday, November 4th.

Player of the Game: Goalie Tim Nowacki-35 saves (.945 save %)

Note: My apologies for not tweeting updates during this game. I was unable to connect to the Canterbury rink Wi-Fi. I will have this figured out for the team’s next game.

In the Crease: Wildcats vs. Canterbury Preview, Captains Appointed, Roster Notes

by Nate Gordon ’16

Wildcats vs. Canterbury Saints Preview

“When we leave campus, nothing else matters. Nothing else matters except playing hockey. You guys won’t have any classes, you have no homework. You’re going on break. But before you go on break, you have one really big hockey game to play.” This is what Williston Coach Derek Cunha told the team about this week’s game against Canterbury after its 6-3 win over Académie St. Louis last Saturday, the 16th.

The Wildcats are hoping to build on this win as they head down to New Milford, Conn. to take on the Canterbury Saints for the team’s first regular season game.

Canterbury also won its scrimmage last Saturday in a 3-0 victory over the Hill School from N.Y.C. The Saints are led by senior forwards Lucas Habich and Mark Bowen, as well as junior Shane Sellar. These three combined for 81 points last season.

Yesterday, Friday the 22nd, the Wildcats watched part of the game film from one of last year’s losses to the Saints. While the Wildcats will be facing a new Canterbury team, of course, Coach Cunha pointed out tendencies in Canterbury’s style of play:

  • They keep the puck wide, stretching the ice on offense.
  • They shoot from everywhere.
  • Their penalty kill is very aggressive—not just waiting for the other team to make a mistake.

Coach Cunha told the team that “if we get the puck moving, we should be good tomorrow.”

Team Appoints Captains

In a team meeting yesterday, Friday the 22nd, the team appointed seniors Phil Angelo, Nick Staub, and Max Willman as team captains. All three said they are honored to be named captains of the hockey team. Angelo, a forward who had a goal and two assists last Saturday, added, “It feels great, it’s an honor, ready to lead the bice (bros/boys).”

Coach Cunha said, however, “We expect in general that all the seniors take on a leadership role.”

Roster Notes

The final roster was set yesterday, with two sophomore defensemen sent down to JV. These two players will be practicing with the varsity team during the week, but will then join the JV squad for games. Besides the two goalies who played last Saturday, Shane Mason ’16 and Tim Nowacki ’14, three other goalies have been battling for a spot on the team. Coaches Cunha and Kyle Hanford decided that the three goalies will rotate, with one practicing with the varsity team each week, while the other two will be with JV.

The final roster includes a total of 20 players, with 12 forwards, six defensemen, and two goalies.

Updates During Tomorrow’s Game

For Williston vs. Canterbury game updates, I will tweeting from the team’s feed, @WillistonHockey. Game highlights, as well as reactions from players and coaches, will available after the game in my game report.

Wildcats Pick Up Scrimmage Win, “A Good Starting Point”

by Nate Gordon ’16

Williston Boys Varsity Hockey picked up its first win in a 6-3 victory over Académie St. Louis in a scrimmage at Lossone Arena.

The Wildcats entered the third period with a 3-2 lead. After a goal from Académie St. Louis tied the game 6 minutes in, Williston responded by scoring three unanswered goals. Senior Max Willman scored two of those goals, which were part of his four-goal effort.

As Willman says, “It was definitely exciting in my first game here at Williston. Definitely felt good to get a W for the boys.”

Continue reading

In the Crease: First Test, Tune Up

by Nate Gordon ’16

On Saturday, November 16, 2013, the team will face its first test against the Académie St. Louis in a scrimmage at Williston’s Lossone Arena.

The game will conclude the team’s first week of practice, which coaches Derek Cunha and Kyle Hanford were very pleased with. Cunha says that “the energy level was really high. It was really encouraging.”

Last year’s team captain, Jean-Gabriel Lacombe and current member of the team, Will Flynn ’15, attended the Académie St. Louis, a school from Quebec, Canada.

Coach Cunha says that this game is an opportunity for the team to make mistakes and learn from them. “I think it would actually be good to make some mistakes, so we can learn from them early.”

You can expect updates from my Twitter (@natekgordon) and game a report with reactions from players and coaches.

In the Crease: What to Expect!

by Nate Gordon ’16

From the practices, to the pre-game locker room speeches, to the drop of the puck, In the Crease will be full coverage of Williston’s Boys Varsity Hockey Team. It will take many different forms, giving readers a unique view of the team.

In the Crease will be full coverage of the BV hockey team.

I will be attending all games, home and away. During the week, I will be at practices, talking with the players and coaches. Before games, you can expect a brief preview about the upcoming matchup, with opinions from coaches and players. During games, I will tweet updates with the latest news (@WillistonHockey). After games, I will write game reports with reactions from Williston players, coaches, and even opposing coaches. The post-game interviews with players may be in video format, just as seen on TV when players huff and puff to get words out. Longer pieces will include state-of-the-team reports and player profiles. Team and individual statistics will be available after games, too.

As the Sports Editor for The Willistonian, I have always wanted to closely follow a team through its season. However, I never thought this opportunity would come so soon. In mid-October, Head Coach Derek Cunha called me into his office and proposed that I cover the team. He told me to think about it over long-weekend and then check back in with him. Before I even walked out of his office, I knew that this was how I wanted to spend my winter. Now, just over a month later, with the temperature starting to drop, and the skates laced up, I’m ready for the puck to drop!

The column will be jointly published in The Willistonian (www.willistonian.org) and on its own Williston blog site. The blog site will include all my work, and the posts in The Willistonian will include game reports and longer pieces.

If you have any ideas for this column, please don’t hesitate to comment on my posts, email me (ngordon@williston.com), or send me a message on Twitter.