In-depth coverage of Williston boys varsity hockey

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.

Every Game Could Change Course of Season

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.”

A Big Road Win and a Big Step Towards the Playoffs

by Team Reporter Nate Gordon ’16

In a game with few lapses, Williston Boys Hockey (11-8-1) dominated Millbrook (9-15-3) for large portions of each period and captured a crucial 3-1 road victory on February 14th.

This was the second time this season the Wildcats defeated the Mustangs to complete the season sweep. The previous game was played at Williston on January 28th; the Wildcats narrowly won 4-3.

Williston scored one goal in each period. Sophomore forward JoJo Carbone scored his eighth goal of the season with just under two minutes to play in the first to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.

The second period included a very exciting moment when junior Tiger Lindsay scored his first goal as a Wildcat to give Williston a 2-0 lead just under five minutes into the period. Earlier this season, Lindsay was moved to the forward position after spending all of last season as a defenseman.

Lindsay said about his goal after the game, “I just tried to get in front of the net and then [Jack Gethings ‘15] got a tip and then I saw that the puck was just lying there. I was at a bad angle, I kind of had a bad shot, but it went top shelf and it felt pretty good. I was hyped to get the goal, but even more hyped to put the team in the lead even further.”

These two teams certainly did not play like it was Valentine’s Day; multiple roughing penalties were handed out to both teams in the second period. In the third period, the Wildcats were abe to stay out of the penalty box and did not hand the Mustangs an advantage.

The Mustangs cut the Wildcats’ lead to one with eleven minutes to play, but despite pulling its goalie at the end, Millbrook did not score a second goal. With an open net, senior forward Jared Karas sealed the deal with eighteen seconds to play.

Millbrook, a team with a dangerous top line, was never out of this game. The Mustangs got more than enough chances to tie or even win this game.

The Wildcats relied on their starting goaltender, Shane Mason ’16, to defend a number of odd-man rushes. Mason prevented 33 of 34 (.971) pucks from entering the net.

One thing the team knows it did well today was keep the bench energy high. Williston Co-Captain Rourke Ferguson said after the game, “Whenever [we] are getting fired up on the bench, it just brings everybody up and just sends us to the next level of play.”

Lindsay added about the team’s energy, “The bench energy is a big aspect of the game. If there’s no bench energy, it carries on over to the ice and the team won’t have any energy.”

After an untimely 5-3 loss to Northfield Mount Hermon this past Wednesday, the Wildcats got themselves back on the right track to secure a spot in the playoffs. With just six games remaining, each game could make or break the team’s playoff chances.

Williston Head Coach, Mr. Derek Cunha, said after today’s win, “The effort was there, the bench energy was there. Our guys really made it all about the team, which is what we [the coaches] preach.” He added, “At this point in the year, we know every single shift matters. If we take a shift off, it could be the difference in a game.”

 

Wildcats Forced to Play Catch-Up

by Team Reporter Nate Gordon ’16

One week ago, Williston Boys Hockey (10-8-1) defeated the number two team in New England, Loomis-Chaffee.  The Wildcats never trailed.  In that game,  Williston set the pace and ultimately won the sprint at the end, defeating the Pelicans 4-3 in overtime.

In today’s game against Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) (11-13-0), the Wildcats were constantly playing catch-up; Williston never held a lead in a 5-3 loss.  NMH took control from the start of the game, scoring two goals in the first eight minutes. Within the next eight minutes, the Wildcats tied the game with goals from line-mates Brandon Bork ’15 and Rourke Ferguson ’15. Both teams scored once in the first two minutes of the second period. Sophomore forward Nick Schofield scored for the Wildcats to tie the game at three. The rest of the second period remained scoreless until the Hoggers got a break when the puck bounced off the back of Williston goalie Shane Mason’s pad on a shot behind from behind the goal.

Schofield ’17 was playing in his first game since January 16th when he suffered a knee injury against Winchendon.  Schofield is usually a winger on the team’s top line and provides a significant amount of the team’s offense. For precautionary reasons, Schofied was available in a limited role today as he rotated in on the team’s third line.

NMH’s top line was a force in the first two periods. Led by senior forward and team captain Ben Freemen, a UCONN commit, this line was involved in the team’s first four goals. The Hoggers’ leader in goals (18) and points (30), senior forward Peter Owen Hayward scored his team’s second and third goals.

Williston Head Coach Derek Cunha said after the game, “They [NMH] made more plays than us and we weren’t ready to play. [That’s something we will need] if we [want] our games to be the equivalent of playoffs, we didn’t show up today.”

The Wildcats controlled play in the third period peppering NMH goaltender Conor O’Brien with shots. O’Brien was a key player in this game–he made thirty-eight saves (.927 %). In the last six minutes of the game, the Wildcats had four minutes on the power play. O’Brien provided huge saves for NMH, not allowing Williston to tie the game. With just over a minute to play, the Hoggers scored an open net goal to seal the win.

 

Up next, Williston will face Millbrook (8-14-3) on Saturday on the road.