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).