In-depth coverage of Williston boys varsity hockey

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.

Wildcats Send Seniors Off on Good Note

by Team Reporter Nate Gordon ’16

While tonight’s game did not have the playoff implications that the Wildcats were hoping for, the game certainly had extra meaning as it was the last time that the team’s ten seniors would play in a Williston uniform.

The Wildcats (13-11-2) defeated Pomfret (7-18-0) 4-1 in a game in which the Griffins got only eighteen total shots. Senior defenseman Jo Labrecque’s first period goal gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead until the Griffins tied the game just over one minute into the third period. In each of the Wildcats’ previous three games, they held the lead at one point, but lost each of those games. But today, the Wildcats responded with three goals, two from junior Jack Kelly to help the seniors win their final game.

Kelly said after the game, “Everything was for the seniors today. We couldn’t make the playoff push, last few games we slipped, but loved getting the win for those guys [the seniors]. Elie in net played one hell of a game, I can’t say much more besides that.”

Williston senior goaltender Elie Small made his first start in net for the Wildcats. While junior Shane Mason started just about every other, when Small has gotten playing time he has proved to be very reliable. In 90 minutes this season, Small let in just one goal posting a .971 save percentage.

Small said about his last game, “It was a really special game. I’ve been playing hockey for thirteen or fourteen years and you never see the end till it comes. Getting the win was definitely a nice feeling.”

The Wildcats had three games this week and they needed to win at least two of them to reach the postseason. The Wildcats now have the same record against New England teams as they did last year at the end of the regular season; 12-10-2. This record kept the team out of the playoffs by .004 of a percentage point. It appears that the teams in front of Williston have better records this year than last year, diminishing any playoff chances.

Of the team’s ten seniors, seven joined the team last year as repeat juniors. Many of these players have not yet decided where they will be next year. A popular option among prep school hockey players is to play a year of junior hockey before going on to college.

In the next week, the team formally celebrates its season with team night when Coach Cunha announces the awards for MVP, Most Improved Player, and sportsmanship.

 

 

Wildcats Concede Three in 3rd To Put Playoffs Seemingly Out of Reach

by Team Reporter Nate Gordon ’16

Scoring three goals in the third period, Winchendon (11-12-2) piled on its goaltender to celebrate its comeback victory, one that very likely ended the Wildcats (12-11-2) playoff pursuit.

The Wildcats held a 2-0 lead after the second period. Controlling the puck, Williston kept play in its offensive zone for the first thirty-six minutes.

This was the second time in two games that Williston lost by one goal—losing 6-5 to Albany on Wednesday. In both games, the Wildcats held a two goal lead at one point.

In this game on Friday, February 27th, the Wapitis scored all three goals within seven minutes during the third period. The first goal was scored less than four minutes into the period, with the last coming with 9:23 to play.

This was the Wildcats third straight loss, three games the team needed to win to secure a playoff spot.

In the locker room after the game, the coaches reminded the Wildcats that they had to put the game into perspective.

Williston Head Coach Mr. Derek Cunha, “We were what, 1-5 to start the season? We clawed our way back to being relevant. Did we burn out? Maybe. Did we peak too soon? Maybe.” He added, “Somebody has to win, somebody has to lose. There were a couple games this year where I felt we were the better team, [but] we didn’t play well. This last stretch of games, you haven’t played badly. The margin of error is so thin to win games.”

Senior Brandon Bork scored the first goal for the Wildcats in the first period while senior Jared Karas added the team’s second before the midpoint of the second period.

On Saturday, February 28th , Williston will play its final game of the regular season at home against Promfret (7-17-0). This game will celebrate the careers of ten seniors for whom this will be the last home game they play in a Williston uniform.

A win in this game would give the Wildcats a 12-10-2 record against New England teams. This would tie the record of Williston’s 2013-14 New England record, one that had the Wildcats missing the playoffs by .004 of a percentage point.

Wildcats Drop Important Game, But Postseason Could Still Be in Reach

by Team Reporter Nate Gordon ’16

Midway through the first period, Williston Boys Hockey (12-10-2) held a 2-0 lead over visiting Albany Academy (15-11-2). But in the last 6:30 of the period, Albany scored three goals and the game was tied at three going into the second period. The Cadets scored two goals in the second, while the Wildcats only got one. Williston had eighteen minutes to be victorious in a game that had serious postseason implications.

The final period started well for the Wildcats controlling play in their offensive zone. With 11:28 to play, senior forward Tyler Scroggins tied the game at five and the Wildcats gained momentum.  In a game with sixteen penalties, it could be predicted that one of the teams would be sent to the box near the end of the game. With 4:29 to play, two Wildcats were sent to the box along with a Cadet. With a five-on-four man advantage, Albany scored a power play goal to take a 6-5 lead with just 3:53 remaining for the Wildcats to respond. Despite being on the power play for the last 1:53, Williston would drop its second straight home game.

The Wildcats turned the puck over numerous times. Albany scored its second goal shorthanded on a breakaway off a Williston turnover in its offensive zone.

In the locker room after the game, Williston senior captain Rourke Ferguson told the team, “In the end, we win our games, we lose our games.

Head Coach Mr. Derek Cunha told the Wildcats, “Now it comes do or die. Now it becomes, we need [to win] Friday… Offensive, we were clicking, our power play was going, I thought our lines were going. There was some good chemistry that was happening out there. But we fell short.”

Williston sophomore forward Nick Schofield recorded three assists and scored the team’s third goal in this game. Both senior forwards Brandon Bork and Tyler Scroggins assisted two goals today, with Scroggins scoring one, as well.

Albany’s two leading scorers, junior Kevin O’Neil and senior Nick Boyagian helped produce four of their team’s six goals. O’Neill scored two to bring his team-leading point total to 53.

In these teams’ previous game at Albany on January 31st, the Wildcats prevailed 4-3.

With just two games remaining, every game carries the weight of deciding which teams will make the playoffs. While the Wildcats may need some luck, the team’s postseason hopes are still alive.

A Week that Could Make History

by Team Reporter Nate Gordon ’16

With the team’s final three games of the regular season this week, the 2014-15 Williston Boys Hockey (12-9-2) has the opportunity to make history as the first team in program history to reach the playoffs at the Division 1 level. With just three games remaining, each win this upcoming week would keep the Wildcats in control of their playoff fate while each loss would leave them at the mercy of the playoff computing system.

In the team’s three games last week, the Wildcats did not quite get the results they were hoping for. Williston did pick up a very exciting and important win over Westminster on February 16th. The second two games of the week, against Canterbury and Deerfield, resulted in a tie and a loss, respectively. The loss against Deerfield came in the teams’ annual rivalry games, held at Williston this year.

Williston Head Coach Mr. Derek Cunha told the team after the Deerfield game, “It’s a setback, we build from it to then get better next week. This could be, it could be, our last loss of the year. It could. We sweep next week, that puts us into the playoffs for sure. Once we get into the playoffs, [we will take it] game by game.”

The Wildcats’ three games this week are against Albany, Winchendon, and Pomfret; these teams have a combined record of 31-39-2. Despite this record, these are games Williston must win if it hopes to play in March.

For tomorrow’s home game against Albany Academy (14-11-2), the Wildcats will make a few changes to their usual forward lines. Coach Cunha said that this change will hopefully create a “spark” in the team’s play, something it lacked in its previous two games. Players who contribute significant amounts of the team’s offense have been distributed among three lines. The last meeting between Williston and Albany resulted in a 4-3 win for the Wildcats.

Next, on Friday, February 27th, the Wildcats will face the Winchendon Wapitis (10-12-2) for Williston’s final road game of the regular season.  Williston has already beaten the Wapitis twice this season by scores of 4-3 and 5-2. This upcoming game is the last of the regular season for Winchendon. The Wapitis will be fresh as their second to last game, a loss, was played this past Friday.

The Wildcats host their season finale on Saturday afternoon. This game will have added meaning as the team will celebrate their seniors in their last regular season games. But after the festivities, the Wildcats will have a game to play that could decide their season. Facing Pomfret (7-16-0),  these two teams have not yet met this season.

Follow the team’s Twitter feed, @WillistonHockey, for live game tweets and the latest updates on the team and the playoffs. 

 

 

Wildcats Unable to Impress Fans in Annual Rivalry Game

by Team Reporter Nate Gordon ’16

After the first period, Williston Boys Hockey (12-9-2) held a 1-0 lead over Deerfield Academy (3-16-3). In the locker room before the second period, senior defenseman Chris Dumont casually asked the team, “Who’s going to get the next one [goal]?”

However, that goal never arrived as Deerfield controlled the final 36 minutes en route to a 5-1 win, the Big Green’s third of the season. In front of the biggest home crowds in recent memory at a hockey game, the Wildcats were unable to impress fans in these two teams’ annual rivalry game on Friday, February 21st.

The Wildcat fan section for the team's annual rivalry game against Deerfield on Friday, February 20th. Photo courtesy of Nate Gordon '16
The Wildcat fan section for the team’s annual rivalry game against Deerfield on Friday, February 20th. Photo courtesy of Nate Gordon ’16

Over the final two periods, Deerfield scored five goals, two in the second, three in the third. Many of these goals were scored in transition, catching the Wildcats off guard.

Williston’s lone goal was scored by senior forward Tyler Scroggins. His ninth of the season, Scroggins leads the team with 32 points.

A team plagued by injuries, Deerfield saw production from an array of players tonight. Five different players scored each of the Big Green’s goals and six members of the team recorded points.

Deerfield goaltender Samuel Vigneault was outstanding in this game making 38 saves (.974%). Especially on the Wildcats’ power plays, the sophomore was the reason Williston scored only one goal.

After the second period, down 2-1, Williston Head Coach Mr. Derek Cunha told his team, “We got outworked that period. We were flat…we were soft that period.”

Coach Cunha, looking for something to reignite the team’s play, decided to switch up the lines before the final eighteen minutes.

This was the third straight year that the Wildcats have lost to the Big Green in this game.

Coach Cunha’s message after the game was that the team needs to look forward to next week, one that decides the team’s playoff chances. With three games, all against teams the Wildcats have previously defeated this season, three wins would almost certainly guarantee the Wildcats a spot in the playoffs. Two wins would probably get the job done, as well.

Coach Cunha said after this Deerfield game, “At minimum, we need to win two of those games next week. If you do that, we are going to stay in contention. It has to start on Wednesday, back on home ice. [It’s] certainly not going to be packed like it was tonight, you guys are going to have to create your energy.”

The Wildcats will continue their playoff push at home against Albany Academy (14-10-2) on Wednesday, February 25th.