Wildcats Looking to Win 2nd Straight, Gunnery Game Preview

by Team Reporter-Nate Gordon

At 3 p.m. on Saturday, January18th, Williston Boys Hockey (8-4-1) will take on Gunnery (11-5-0) in the team’s ninth road game of the season. The Wildcats have played just five games in Lossone Rink, their home.

In Williston’s most recent game on Wednesday, January 15th, the Wildcats defeated Vermont Academy 4-1 (8-5-2) with junior forward Brandon Bork scoring two power play goals.

Against Gunnery, the Wildcats will be looking to win their fourth game in its past. The team’s most recent loss was against Berkshire (10-3-1), on Sunday, January 12th,  which ended in a final score of 2-1.

Gunnery comes into the game having won its last seven games. The game before the winning streak began, Gunnery lost 2-0 to Canterbury on January 1st. Williston defeated Canterbury 4-2 on the road in the team’s season opener on November 23rd. However, the second time Gunnery played Canterbury, it defeated the Saints 5-2. Williston’s first scheduled game against Gunnery was canceled due to a snowstorm on 12/14.

On December 2nd, Gunnery also tied Northwood 0-0. The Wildcats beat Northwood 4-0 earlier in the season. Gunnery has played just three away game and lost two of them. At home, Gunnery has won nine of ten games.

Gunnery gets major contributions from many players. It has five players with more than fifteen points already this season. The Wildcats have three players above fifteen points: Max Willman (25), Tyler Scroggins (21), Brandon Borges (23)—the team’s top line. Williston Head Coach Derek Cunha says of Gunnery, “They’re a very balanced team, they’ve got a lot of depth. Every line is gonna be dangerous.”

About today’s game, Cunha says, “We’re gonna have to match their intensity, they’re a very good team at home, they played hard every shift, so we’re gonna have to match that every shift and a little bit more.”

As usual, game updates will be available through the team’s Twitter account (@WillistonHockey) and a game report with reactions from players and coaches will be available after the game.


Williston Defeats Vermont, Bork Scores 2

by Team Reporter-Nate Gordon ’16

With two goals from junior forward Brandon Bork and a full team effort, Williston Hockey won its eighth game of the season against Vermont Academy (V.A.) (7-4-2) to improve to 8-4-1 on the season. The Wildcats were playing in their first home game since December 11th when they were defeated by Cushing Academy 7-3. Before this game, Williston played eight straight road games, going 6-2 during that stretch.

After the game, Williston Head Coach Derek Cunha said, “The distinguishing feature of this game was just your legs were moving…I saw some excellent chemistry…It’s two more points towards playing in March.”

The first eighteen minutes ended in a scoreless tie, though Williston did kill two penalties. It was clear that Williston players were getting frustrated because they were unable to capitalize on good chances. However, during the first intermission, Coach Cunha said he thought the team had played a solid first period. “I see this anxiety [you have], that was a pretty good period. The things that we asked of you for that first period, play with an edge [and be] physical, you guys were [doing it],” he said.

The second period was more physical than the first with bigger hits and a few altercations after the whistle.

Williston got on the board just over four minutes into the period. Sophomore defenseman RJ Guardia gave junior forward Brandon Borges a pass that sent him on a breakaway with V.A. players trailing very closely. Borges passed the puck to senior forward Max Willman who scored right in front of the net. This was Willman’s seventh goal in four games and his fourteenth of the year.

Less than a minute later, on the power play, junior forward Bork hit the puck out of the air in front of the goal to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. Junior forward Tyler Scroggins and Willman had the assists on the goal.

Eight minutes later, again on the power play, Williston was circling the puck around and Bork eventually got the puck near the goal to score his second of the game and fifth of the season.

Before the third period, Cunha reminded his team that they had another period of hockey to play and that the game was by no means over. “This is going to be a battle for the next eighteen minutes, do not think we have just won the game.”

In the third period, both teams scored one goal. Vermont Academy’s came first with just over eleven minutes to play. A V.A. player got the puck down below the faceoff circle on the left side (facing the net) and took a wrist shot that found it way past senior goaltender Tim Nowacki.

Nowacki finished the game with 29 saves (.967%). On the season, Nowacki has a .938 save percentage and has allowed an average of just 1.5 per game. For New England prep hockey goalies who have played over 300 minutes this season, Nowacki has allowed the second least goals (20). The leader of that list is Kent’s Stephen Morrissey, who has allowed 19.

Junior forward Tyler Scroggins then gave Williston a 4-1 lead with just under five minutes to play. Max Willman passed the puck from the right side of the goal (facing the goal) to Scroggins on the left side who put the puck into the top right corner of the net.

After the game, Vermont’s Head Coach Chris Davidson said, “I feel like we’re a little snake bitten right now, we’re not getting inside to get our second chances, guys that normally score aren’t right now. We’re sort of fighting it a little bit right in our last few games. In our last three games, we’ve lost 2-1, 2-0, and today was 4-1, so we just can’t seem to score. [Williston] has a very solid top line, so, when they have a puck, any team would be scrambling.

On Saturday, January 18th, Williston will be taking on Gunnery (11-5) on the road. The first scheduled game against Gunnery on December 14th, a home game, was canceled due to a snowstorm.

Williston Hockey Looking to Win 8th Game against Vermont, Team Photo

by Team Reporter-Nate Gordon ’16

On Wednesday, January 15th, Williston Hockey (7-4-1) will compete in its first home game of 2014 when they take on the Vermont Academy (7-4-2) at 4:45 p.m. Williston’s last home game was back on December 11th when the Wildcats fell to Cushing Academy 7-3.

Since that game, the Williston Wildcats have played eight road games going 6-2 during that stretch.

The Wildcats are looking to avenge a 2-1 loss to Berkshire on Sunday, January 12–a game marked by inconsistent play. This loss snapped a five-game win streak Williston started on December 22 against Northwood. The team’s next four wins came against St. Sebastian’s (12/28/13), Nobles (12/29), Worcester (1/8), and Winchendon (1/10).

Vermont Academy has won two of its last three games, including a big 4-2 win over one of the best prep teams in New England, Kimball Union. Williston tied Kimball Union 4-4 in the team’s home opener on December 4th.

As usual, I will be tweeting game updates from the team Twitter account (@WillistonHockey).

On Monday, January 12, the team photo was taken. Below is the photo:Williston Hockey 2014

Williston’s 5-Game Winning Streak Snapped, Defeated by Berkshire 2-1

by Team Reporter & Writer-Nate Gordon

Before the game, when asked about how his team plans to stop Williston’s first line (Tyler Scroggins, Brandon Borges, Max Willman) Berkshire’s Head Coach Dan Driscoll told me, “They’re a pretty dynamic group. I don’t know if it’s about shutting them down as much as it’s about just containing them. We’re gonna have to be aware when they’re out on the ice.”

The Berkshire Bears held Williston top offensive unit to just two points and one goal, which was key in a 2-1 defeat of the Wildcats on Sunday, January 12 in the 2013-2014 Prep West Conference Showcase hosted by Berkshire.

Scroggins, Willman, and Borges have scored 26 of the team’s 44 goals this season. Also, they have combined for 60 of the team’s 100 points. And, in the team’s five games in which they won or lost by one goal (including today’s game), these three have scored eight goals and tallied 20 points. In Williston’s seven wins so far this season, this first line averages 2.57 goals. But in the four games it has lost, these three average a combined 1.25 goals.

The Bears took the first lead with 12:32 remaining in the first period. It was scored by senior forward Tipper Higgins, his fifth of the season—tied for second most on the team.

Williston had its opportunities to get on the scoreboard this period, but was unable to capitalize.

In the locker-room after the first period, down 1-0, Williston Head Coach Derek Cunha told his team, “We’ve been in this position before where, right now, we didn’t play well. We gotta snap out of this funk about first periods.”

One problem Cunha identified in Williston’s game was too many poor passes leading to turnovers. This could be because the Wildcats were trying to make longer passes on Berkshire’s Olympic-sized rink, which is a bigger ice surface than what the team is used to.

In the second period, both teams were getting good chances with Williston’s senior goaltender Tim Nowacki preventing Berkshire from adding multiple goals to its lead. Nowacki recorded a total of 32 saves on 34 shots (.941%).

Eventually, with 8:35 remaining in the middle period, the Bears took a 2-0 lead when senior forward Nick O’Connor scored on a wrist shot from the top of the left (facing the goal) circle.

Going into the third period, Berkshire held a 2-0 lead. Cunha told his team that is was now a new 18-minute game and reminded his team that it had scored two goals very quickly in previous games.

Williston did get on the board quickly in the third, just 27 seconds in. Senior forward Max Willman scored a rebound goal to cut the Bear’s lead down to one. This was Willman’s team-leading 13th goal of the season and his sixth goal in the last three games. It was assisted by junior forward Brandon Borges.

Despite Williston having two power plays in the last ten minutes, Berkshire was able to preserve its 2-1 lead and win its ninth game of the season (9-3-1).

With this loss, Williston snapped it five-game win streak and dropped to 7-4-1. The Wildcats were without senior defensemen Nick Staub for the third straight game (lower-body injury) and Seth Cupak (concussion).

After the game Berkshire Coach Driscoll said, “I thought we played well defensively and I think our penalty kill really saved us today. We had to kill a couple penalties there in the last [few] minutes…The combination of us coming together as a team and doing a great job on the PK and our goalie keeping us in it was the difference in today’s game.”

On Wednesday, Williston will take on Vermont Academy for the team’s first home game since December 11. The Wildcats have played eight straight games on the road, with a 6-2 record.

With Hat-Trick from Willman, Williston Hockey Wins 5th Straight

by Team Reporter & Writer-Nate Gordon

In his most prolific game so far this season, senior forward and Team Captain Max Willman, who already committed to Brown for his college hockey, scored three times and propelled Williston Hockey to a 4-1 win over the Winchendon Wapitis.

This was the team’s 5th straight win, which gives the Wildcats a 7-3 record.

The first period ended in a scoreless tie, though both teams had scoring chances. Senior goaltender Tim Nowacki made numerous key saves in the first eighteen minutes that kept the Wapitis from getting on the board first. In total, Nowacki faced 35 shots (.971%)

Williston took the first lead of the game 1:23 into the second period. Sophomore defenseman RJ Guardia threw the puck out of Williston’s defensive zone. Willman picked the puck up in the neutral zone and skated down the right side of the rink. He then slid the puck to junior Brandon Borges in the slot who scored on the left side of the net which was unguarded. This was Borges’ eighth goal of the season.

Two minutes later, junior defenseman Chris Dumont was hit from behind in Williston’s defensive zone. He was helped off the ice by a pair of teammates and did not return to action. After the game, it was clear he had aggravated an injury to his ankle/foot region. This was Dumont’s second game back after missing five games with this injury, originally sustained on December 11th.

Senior defenseman Nick Staub also sat out his second straight game with a lower-body injury. In Staub’s and Dumont’s place sophomore defensemen Guardia and Tiger Lindsay have seen increased playing time.

With thirty-two seconds to go in the second period, Willman added to the Wildcats’ lead. He skated down the right side of the ice, brought the puck to the top of the left faceoff circle, and unleashed a shot that found its way to the top right side of the net.

To start the third period, Williston had a 1:28 5-on-3 power play. The Wildcats were able to control the puck in their offensive zone, but were unable to capitalize.

Just under six minutes into the third Winchedon scored its first and last goal of the game. It was a rebound goal right in front of the net.

Just when it felt like this game was going to be very close, Junior forward Tyler Scroggins down the ice and slid the puck to Willman to give Williston a 3-1 lead. There were just 21 seconds between the two goals.

Two minutes later, Willman completed the Hat-trick on a circus goal that gave Williston an authoritative 4-1 lead. Willman won the faceoff in the offensive zone and pushed the puck forward to the goal. He was then tripped, but from his stomach, he hit the puck and it found the back of the net.

After the game, Willman said of the goal, “The initial plan was to win the draw forward and then hit [Tyler] Scroggins back-door, but I fell and then tried getting it to him, but it went on net instead.”

Head Coach Derek Cunha told his team after the game, “We’re not the team that gives up close goals, we’re the team that scores them and you guys did that today when it mattered. You guys jumped on them, scored some opportune goals and we come out of here with a 4-1 win.

With this loss, Winchedon dropped to 6-6-2.

The Wildcats will face a big test when they play Berkshire on Sunday, January 12. This game is part of the 2nd Annual Winter Showcase hosted by Berkshire. The Berkshire Bears come into the game with an 8-3-1 record and have won their last two games.

Williston wins 4th Straight, 8-2 Defeat of Worcester

After the first period against the Worcester Academy Hilltoppers on Wednesday, January 8th, Williston had a three-goal lead. After the second, a five-goal lead, yet after each period Head Coach Derek Cunha was not satisfied.

After the first period, Cunha asked his team to evaluate its level of play on a scale of one to ten. He told his players that he would rate their play at about a one or two. (One member of the team said -4). “You guys have not earned anything out there right now,” Cunha said. He told his team that they were playing selfishly and that they were playing to rack up points, not playing solid team hockey.

Williston took an early lead, just 1:40 into the game, when senior forward Anthony Mantz skated down the right side of the rink, made a move to get past a Worcester defenseman, and scored on a backhand shot. Junior forward Rourke Ferguson was credited with the assist.

Less than one minute later, Williston added to its lead when junior forward Justin Lindsay was in the left corner of the offensive zone, skated up the boards and took a quick shot which found its way past Worcester’s goaltender. Lindsay did not seem to realize he had scored, at first, but then put his arms up in celebration. The goal was assisted by junior forward Jack Gethings.

Nine minutes later, on the power-play, junior forward Tyler Scroggins scored his fifth goal of the season to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead. Williston was circling the puck around when Scroggins got it behind the net. He “shot” the puck from behind the net and it hit a Hilltopper’s skate and found its way into the goal.

Williston controlled the puck for almost all of the first period, not allowing Worcester to get scoring chances. It’s my guess that the Hilltoppers probably had control of the puck in their offensive zone for around two minutes in the 18-minute first period.

At the beginning of the second period, the Wildcats had many scoring opportunities, but were unable to capitalize. With eleven minutes to go in the period, junior forward Will Flynn scored a rebound goal. It was assisted by Scroggins and senior forward Max Willman. The goal, however, was overshadowed by a Worcester player being quickly escorted off the ice with what it seemed like a cut in his hand. There was a break in action because blood from the injury had to be cleaned off the ice.

Twenty-three seconds later, Willman scored on a rebound. Scroggins again had the assist on the play.

Just over a minute later, sophomore defenseman Nick Garofano added to Williston’s lead. It was Garofano’s first goal of the season and it was assisted by Ferguson and Mantz

Less than a minute later, senior forward Kyle Hall took the puck from a Worcester player in the corner of Williston’s offensive zone. Hall then passed the puck to Lindsay who was waiting in the slot and scored. This was Lindsay’s second goal of the game and third of the season. This gave Williston a 7-0 lead.

After the game, Lindsay said, “It was good, it was a team effort out there, we moved the puck, and I was lucky enough to get open in the slot.”

In the final 35 seconds of the second period, Worcester scored two goals. The first came when a Hilltopper skated down the right side of the rink and hit the top-right corner of the net. Then, 18 seconds later, a Worcester player had the puck at the blue line of his offensive zone and took a shot that hit the top left corner of the goal.

After the period, Cunha told his team, “The fact that, one we give up a goal, but then 17 seconds later we give up a second one? That has to be something that’s unacceptable…When we give up a goal, [we have to go into] complete shutdown mode, especially in the last minute of a period.”

Early in the third period, the Wildcats had complete control over the puck, but were unable to score. With 8:39 to go in the final period, Williston went on the power-play, but made a goalie switch before it started. Sophomore goalie Shane Mason, who was playing in his third start of the season, was replaced by junior Elie Small. This was Small’s first appearance for Williston this season.

One minute later, on the power-play, junior defenseman Chris Dumont sent the puck to senior and Team Captain Willman who was at the blue line. Willman skated into Williston’s offensive zone and scored on a wristshot.

This was Dumont’s first game back since Williston’s December 11th game against Cushing, which the defenseman left with a leg injury. Williston was also without senior defenseman and Team Captain Nick Staub who has a lower-body injury. Also, senior defenseman Seth Cupak was unable to contribute due to illness.

After the game, senior Mantz said, “To be honest, we didn’t play our best hockey, we just got the win, got pucks to the net. We could have played harder, but we didn’t have the intensity that we should have had, but we came out here and got the win.”

This was Worcester’s fifth straight loss. In those five games, the Hilltoppers have been outscored by opponents 34 to 10.

Williston has just one day off before it faces Winchedon (away) on Friday, January 10th.

After the game, Coach Cunha said, “We win on a Wednesday, a little bit of a lopsided game, we come back and use tomorrow to refocus and then Friday we’re playing a really tough team—a very physical team, a good team. So, playing a game soon actually benefits us.”

Williston vs. Worcester Preview, Wildcats Look to Win 4th Straight

by Team Reporter & Writer-Nate Gordon

On Wednesday, January 8, Williston Hockey (5-3-1) will face its first opponent of 2014, the Worcester Academy Hilltoppers (1-7). The game is scheduled to begin a 3:40p.m. at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass.  Williston will be looking to win its fourth straight game and fifth the last six games.

In their last game, on December 29, the Wildcats defeated Nobles 3-2 with junior forward Brandon Borges recording a Hat-trick.

Williston had another game scheduled for the evening on December 29. Since no officials appeared, it was canceled.

The Hilltoppers come into tomorrow’s game having lost their last four. In those games, they were outscored by their opponents 26 to 8.

With that said, the Wildcats know they can’t come into the game unfocused. Head Coach Derek Cunha said after practice on Tuesday, the 7th, “We have to play them as hard as any other team this year. We will play them like a [7-1] team. The records can be very misleading at times.

In its most recent weekly poll of New England Prep Hockey teams, the New England Hockey Journal ranked Williston #8. Salisbury was ranked #1. Williston lost to the Crimson Knights by just one goal back on December 7.

As usual, I will be tweeting game updates from the team’s Twitter account (@WillistonHockey).