In-depth coverage of Williston boys varsity hockey

2013-2014 Prep West Conference Showcase

2013-2014 Prep West Conference


The Prep West Conference is proud to announce its 2nd Annual Winter Showcase to be played Sunday January 12, 2014 at Berkshire School. This event is the first of its kind to bring together all prep conference teams in one venue for exposure to college, junior, and NHL scouts for official New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association games.

Many players make it onto scouting lists during holiday tournaments and this event will provide another opportunity for them and for all our players to showcase their talents in a highly-competitive setting. Games will be played within a four-hour timeframe making scouting this event efficient and valuable. Full programs will be available to scouts as well as a private viewing area.

We hope to see you all January 12th!

12:00 Pomfret v. Millbrook (NHL)

12:30 Gunnery v. Winchendon (Olympic)

2:15 Canterbury v. Albany (NHL)

2:45 Williston v. Berkshire (Olympic)

Note: Team listed 1st is the away team and will wear white jerseys.

Nobles-St. Sebastian’s New Year’s Showcase Preview

by Team Report & Writer-Nate Gordon

On Friday, December 27th, Williston Hockey will travel back to eastern Massachusetts for its second tournament of the season. The tournament is hosted jointly by the Nobles and St. Sebastian’s schools. Friday afternoon, the Wildcats will have their first practice since winning the third place game last Sunday against Northwood in the St. Seb’s Holiday Tournament.

On Saturday, the team will play its first game of the two-day, three-game tournament against St. Sebastian’s. The Wildcats are looking to avenge a 2-1 loss last Saturday against the Arrows.

There are two main differences between the first game Williston played against St. Seb’s and this upcoming game. This upcoming game will be played with the normal setup of three periods, each 18 minutes long. In the previous tournament, all games were played with two 25 minute halves.

The second difference is that this game will be played at a neutral site–Williston’s first game against St. Seb’s was in the Arrows’ home rink. St. Seb’s has a very passionate student section. At each game, Arrow fans sit in a tight pack in one section of the stands, sing chants, wave flags, and do their best to get under the skin of the opponent. In a neutral site, Williston will play in a more, well, neutral environment, which could (could, I repeat) be the deciding factor.

On Sunday, the team will play its first double-header of the season. At 10 a.m., the Wildcats will take on the Nobles & Greenough School at St. Seb’s rink. Then, at 6:30 p.m., Williston will face Berkshire at Nobles’ rink.

As always, I will keep you updated during each game through the team’s Twitter account (@Williston Hockey). Also, a game report will be available after each game, including reactions from players and coaches.

Below is the full schedule for the tournament:

— Nobles-St. Sebastian’s New Year’s Showcase
At Needham, Mass. and Dedham, Mass.

Sat. Dec. 28 
1:00 pm – Berkshire vs. Nobles (@ Nobles)
3:30 pm – St. Sebastian’s vs. Williston (@ Nobles)

Sun. Dec. 29 
10:00 am – Nobles vs. Williston (@ St. Sebastian’s)
12:30 pm – Berkshire vs. St. Sebastian’s (@ St. Sebastian’s)
6:30 pm – Williston vs. Berkshire (@ Nobles)

Williston Scores 4 Goals in 2nd Half, Takes 3rd Place at St. Seb’s Holiday Tournament

by Team Reporter and Writer Nate Gordon

Before the game, Williston Head Coach Derek Cunha told his team, “Better every day, make this the best game of the weekend.” If the Wildcats didn’t have their best full game in St. Seb’s Holiday Tournament, then they certainly had their best half.

During the last 25 minutes against Northwood on Sunday, December 22nd, Williston scored four goals and gave up none. After scoring the first goal, the Wildcats never let the Huskies back into the game. This win secured Williston a third-place finish in the eight-team tournament.

The Wildcats scored all four scores within eight minutes.

With almost 15 minutes left to play, with Williston on the power play, junior forward Rourke Ferguson scored his first goal in a Williston uniform. Junior forwards Jack Gethings and Will Flynn assisted the goal.

Twenty seconds later, now 5-on-5, senior Defenseman Seth Cupak gave the puck to Flynn who was in the neutral zone. Flynn skated the puck into the offensive zone towards the slot, faked a shot, which the Northwood goalie bit, and scored.

With almost 12 minutes left, senior forward and captain Max Willman got a breakaway and scored on his backhand.

Three minutes later, again on the power play, Willman was just inside the blue line of Williston’s offensive zone. He took a slap shot which rocketed past the right shoulder of the Huskies’ goalie and found the back of the net.

Sophomore goalie Shane Mason got his second start of the young season and proved he can be a reliable last line of defense. He recorded a shutout, while facing 17 shots, including multiple pad saves that got the Williston bench cheering.

After the game, Mason said, “It felt great, it was a nice way to bounce back after Cushing, which didn’t go so well.” Mason was referring to his first start of the season on December 11th, a 7-3 loss. About today’s game, Mason added, “I was thinking ‘keep it simple,’ putting the pucks in the corners, helping my D-men out, they were helping me out.”

Although the Wildcats didn’t accomplish their biggest goal of winning the tournament, these three games were by no means a waste.

After this game, Cunha told his team, “That’s a big win for us right now. That’s a big win for our confidence, just for our program in general right now.”

Assistant Coach Kyle Hanford added that during this tournament the team “really found an identity and came together.”

Senior forward Matt Arnold was unable to contribute to this victory as he was serving a one-game suspension for receiving a game-misconduct against St. Sebastian’s on Saturday.

With this win, Williston Hockey improves to 3-3-1 on the season. The team will now have four days off before heading back to eastern Massachusetts for a practice on Friday at the Nobles and Greenough School. Then, over the weekend, the team will compete in another tournament, the Nobles Classic. I will post details about this tournament later in the week.

Wildcats Go to Box Few Too Many Times, Fall to St. Sebastian’s in 2nd Round of Tournament

In a game in which Williston lost 2-1 to St. Sebastian’s School (St. Seb’s), the Arrows, took advantage on a key Williston penalty, which ended up being the deciding factor in the game.

Going into the second half (each tournament game was played with two 25 minute halves), the game was deadlocked at 1-1. Senior forward and team captain Max Willman tied the game up when junior forward Brandon Borges took a shot from just inside the circle, which bounced off St. Seb’s goalie right to Willman who netted the rebound.

Although Williston was able to kill all four of its penalties in the first half, four more came in the second. With thirteen minutes to play, senior forward Matt Arnold was sent to the box for boarding, but was given a five-minute game misconduct. On the same play, senior defenseman Nick Staub was called for slashing. This gave St. Seb’s two minutes of 5-on-3, which the Wildcats survived.

Then, during the 5-on-4, the puck ricocheted off the stick of a St. Seb’s player and found the back of the net.

Williston did have four power play opportunities through the course of the game, but only took advantage of one.

During halftime, Williston Head Coach Derek Cunha told his team, “Expect to win this game. In your heads, expect victory from today. The only way we get there is by 25 minutes of good hockey. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is a winnable game.” He added, “Every time we go into a second half, we want to give ourselves a chance to win a game.”

The Wildcats were definitely in position to win this game until penalties suspended that opportunity. A late Williston penalty prevented the Wildcats from being able to put an extra skater on the ice for more than 30 desperate seconds at the very end.

After the game, Williston senior goalie Tim Nowacki, “I think that we could have capitalized on our power play a little better. We, maybe, took penalties at the wrong time of the game.”

After the game, St. Seb’s Head Coach Sean McCann said, “I thought that Williston for the most part outplayed us during the whole game. They’re extremely aggressive, make good decision with the puck, they drove the net hard.” He added, “But I think it was the power play, the five-minute major, it hurts any team. That’s the difference right there [in the game].”

With this loss, Williston was eliminated from the St. Sebastian’s Holiday Tournament’s winner bracket. The Wildcats will play in a consolation game for third place against Northwood on Sunday, December 22nd at 1p.m.

Williston Comes Back to Win 2-1, Advance to Second Round of St. Seb’s Tournament

by Team Reporter & Writer-Nate Gordon

Williston Hockey advanced to the second round of the St. Sebastian Holiday Tournament with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Rivers School.

The game was played in two 25 minute halves. This is different than the three periods, each 18 minutes, usually played by Williston.

The game started out with neither team controlling the puck. Rivers had the first real scoring opportunity five minutes into the game when a Red Wing slid the puck to a teammate from left to right in front of the goal. The other Red Wing couldn’t handle the pass and it slid to the boards.

With the game approaching the ten-minute mark, Rivers took a 1-0 lead. A puck bounced into the air in front of Williston’s net and a Red Wing swatted the puck into the goal.

Williston went on the power play with just over two minutes to go in the half. The Wildcats strung together multiple passes, but were unable to create any true scoring opportunities.

During halftime, down 1-0, Williston Head Coach Derek Cunha reminded his team of the tournament’s previous game when St. Sebastian’s came back by three goals to beat Albany Academy. He also told his team to get more pucks to the net.

Williston had ten shots in the first half, but Rivers had 16. The Wildcats ended the game with 23 shots, Rivers had 27. Williston senior goaltender Tim Nowacki had 26 shots good for a .962 save percentage.

Early in the second half, Williston was able to kill a hooking penalty. The Wildcats then went on a 5-on-3, just a few minutes later. Although the Wildcats had a few scoring opportunities, they were unable to capitalize.

The Wildcats tied the game with ten minutes left in the second half. Senior forward Max Willman skated to half-ice where he passed the puck to junior forward Tyler Scroggins who brought the puck into the offensive zone. Scroggins then dropped the puck off to junior forward Brandon Borges who took a one-time shot from the right hash-marks that found the low left side of the goal. Scroggins and Willman had assists on the goal.

Thirty seconds later, Williston took the lead when Scroggins scored from behind the net on a shot that bounced off the skate of the Rivers goalie. Of the goal, Scrggins said after the game, “It was dirty [the goal], but it felt good to squeeze out the W.”

These two goals gave the Wildcats new energy they hadn’t had previously in the game. As Scroggins said, “We finally got a momentum change and it was good to pull out the W.”

This momentum kept Williston going for the final ten minutes, which included a very solid penalty kill.

The Wildcats were without junior defenseman Chris Dumont due to injury, and senior defenseman Seth Cupak who was serving a one-game suspension.

After the game, Rivers’ Head Coach Shawn McEarchern said, “They [Williston] played well down low in our zone, got pucks to the net, and got a nice break with that puck hitting off our skate.”

This win put the Wildcats into the winner’s bracket of the tournament, so they will face St. Sebastian’s tomorrow at 3 p.m. As usual, updates on the game will be available through the team’s twitter account (@Williston Hockey).

St. Seb’s Holiday Tournament Preview

Team Reporter & Writer-Nate Gordon

On Friday, December 20, Williston Hockey will travel to Needham, Mass. for the annual St. Sebastian’s Hockey Tournament.

Williston’s first opponent will be the Rivers School on Friday at 4 p.m. This will be the Wildcats’ first game since December 11th when they lost 7-3 to Cushing Academy, which put Williston at 1-2-1 on the season. The team’s December 14th game against Gunnery was canceled due to snow, and will hopefully be rescheduled for some time in January.

The Rivers Red Wings come into the game at 2-1 on the season. The team’s single loss was against St. Sebastian’s, when it fell 3-2 in overtime. The Red Wings will be competing in their first game since the 11th, when they beat St. George’s School 3-2.

This tournament consists of eight teams, split into two sides of a bracket. If Williston wins its first game, it will face the winner of the Albany Academy vs. St. Sebastian’s game. Should Williston be defeated by Rivers, then the Wildcats would be put into the consolation bracket and would play the loser of Albany vs. St. Seb’s.

To take home the championship trophy, Williston will need to win three straight games.

Before Thursday’s practice, Williston Head Coach Derek Cunha, said of the tournament, “This can be a real unifying moment for our group. You guys are going to spend a lot of time together and it’s fun to get away from campus, be in the hotel.” He added, “This is an opportunity to, one, we hope we have a championship trophy, but that we’re going to come together even more as a group.”

I will be tweeting throughout all three games on the team’s Twitter account (@WillistonHockey). Game reports, including reactions from players and coaches, will be available after each game right on this site.

Below is the full schedule of the tournament, including a tournament bracket.

Fri. Dec. 20:
2:00 pm — Game 1: Albany Academy vs. St. Sebastian’s
4:00 pm — Game 2: Williston vs. Rivers
6:00 pm — Game 3: Winchendon vs. Northwood
8:00 pm — Game 4: Thayer vs. St. Andrew’s

Sat. Dec. 21:
11:00 am — Game 5: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
1:00 pm — Game 6: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4
3:00 pm — Game 7: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
5:00 pm — Game 8: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4

Sun. Dec. 22:
9:00 am — Game 9: Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6
11:00 am — Game 10: Consolation: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6
1:00 pm — Game 11: Third Place — Loser Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8
3:00 pm — Game 12: Championship — Winner Game 7



Gunnery Game Canceled

Today’s game against Gunnery has been canceled due poor driving conditions. Head Coach Derek Cunha got the news yesterday after the team’s practice from Williston Athletic Director Mark Conroy. Conroy told Cunha that the bus company that Gunnery would have traveled with didn’t want to put its drivers on the road. Cunha said that the game will hopefully be rescheduled for sometime in January.

Unable to Capitalize on Opportunities, Williston Suffers Loss Against Cushing

Team Report & Writer-Nate Gordon ’16

In a game in which Williston was never able to control the puck in its offensive and was out played physically by a much bigger team, the Wildcats lost to Cushing Academy, 7-3. This is Williston’s second straight loss and puts the team at 1-2-1 on the season. This was the third of four games in a home stand in which the Wildcats face four of the best teams they will see this season.

This game was marked by Cushing taking advantage of opportunities to score and Williston being unable to come through in key moments of the game. This was first shown five minutes into the game when Cushing scored the first goal of the game off a Williston turnover in its defensive zone. Cushing would add two more goals before the first period ended.

Near the end of the first period, down 2-0, Williston junior forward Justin Lindsay scored on a rebound right in front of Cushing’s net. Junior forward Will Flynn was credited with the assist. After the goal, junior forward Chris Dumont was hit by a Salisbury player. Dumont left the game and has suffered a leg injury.

During the first intermission, Williston’s Head Coach Derek Cunha told his team, “Down 3-1, we put ourselves in this position. This is a team you guys can skate with neck and neck for the next 36 minutes.” As Coach Cunha often tells his team when they are down, “don’t push the panic button.”

Williston started the second period on a 5-on-3 power play, but the Wildcats were unable to take advantage of the opportunity.

With just under eight minutes to play in the period, once again, the Wildcats were unable to net the puck when a member of the green and blue had the puck on his stick with a wide open goal. Cushing’s goalie made a diving save on the backhand shot.

One minute later, senior defenseman Seth Cupak was sent to the penalty box for a hit to the head of a Cushing player. Because Cupak already had been given a penalty in the game, and the hit to the head was a major, Cupak was given a game misconduct.

Going into the third, Williston was still down just two goals. Three minutes into the period, Williston goalie Shane Mason tried to make a very aggressive save, coming way out of his crease to knock a puck away. The puck did not bounce in the direction Williston would have liked. A Cushing Penguin picked up the puck, threw the puck at the goal, and another Cushing player tipped the puck into the open net.

This was Mason’s first game in a Williston uniform. He was given the challenge to defend a team that is very fast and good in transition. Mason, a sophomore, had twenty saves in the game. They included many quick pad saves and numerous chest saves. Mason started in place of senior Tim Nowacki, who has started Williston’s previous three games.

On the decision to start Mason instead of Nowacki, Coach Cunha said, “He [Mason] has been practicing well, he earned the start. Tim’s been playing great for us so far, but it’s a long season and we will need both of them.”

Cushing added two more goals and had a 6-1 lead with eight minutes left.

Junior forward Brandon Borges next scored two rebound goals. The first came with 7:25 left on the clock and was assisted by junior forwards Tyler Scroggins and Jack Gethings. The second came with 4:50 left in the period. This one was assisted by junior forward Brandon Bork and again by Scroggins.

After the game, Borges talked about his goals, which were his first two of the season. “It was good to finally get that [the goals] over and done with. [But] it doesn’t mean much to me, we didn’t come out with a W, so it really doesn’t mean much to me at all.”

Cushing added a late goal on an open net, with Williston pulling Mason to put an extra skater on the ice.

After the game, when asked what his team did best in the game, Cushing Head Coach Ron Gagnon said, “Number one, we killed penalties well because we were on the penalty kill a lot. Number two, when we player 5-on-5, we were jumping on loose pucks and we knew we had to get pucks to the net and we did that and we were able to capitalize.”

After two more practices, the Wildcats will face The Gunnery on Saturday at home. This is the team’s last regular season game before going on its holiday break.

Wildcats vs. Cushing Preview, Broken Glass

Team Reporter & Writer-Nate Gordon

Williston vs. Cushing Preview

On Wednesday, December 11th, at 4:30 p.m., Williston hockey will host Cushing Academy for the team’s third home game of the year.

Cushing comes into the game with a 4-1 record, with its one loss against the Dexter School. In their last game, the Penguins defeated Avon Old Farms 3-1.

Hockey Night in Boston News 2013/2014 Prep School Preview Edition ranks Cushing number eight in its preseason poll. This will be the third consecutive game Williston plays against a team ranked in the top ten of that poll.

Cushing Hockey has an outstanding reputation. Approximately 195 boys’ and girls’ players have gone on to play D1 college hockey. This is the most from any New England prep school.

The Wildcats are coming off a gritty 3-2 loss against Salisbury. Williston’s Head Coach Derek Cunha says the team has been working on its penalty kill and power play, both weaknesses in the game against Salisbury.

I will be tweeting throughout the game via the team’s twitter feed (@WillistonHockey).

Broken Glass

Before Tuesday’s practice, a pane of glass was shattered when players were skating before practice. Strangely, though, it was not a slap shot that caused the damage. According to Coach Cunha, defenseman Jo Labreque apparently just flicked the puck high up on the glass. Rink managers were able to quickly clean up the shards and install a new pane. Coach Cunha says that this is the first time glass has been shattered since new boards and glass were set up a few years ago.


Williston Loses Tight Game against Salisbury

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.