by Team Reporter-Nate Gordon ’16
Coming into the game, Williston held the eighth seed in the playoffs. Deerfield Academy (DA: 9-8-3, including this game) was ninth and it played like it needed to win the game. The Wildcats (10-10-2), including this game) gave up five goals in the first two periods and lost its third straight game on Friday, February 14th.
This was the teams’ annual rivalry game, which this year was held at the Big Green’s home rink. A very large and loud Deerfield student section showed up for the game, but Williston Head Coach Derek Cunha didn’t think it affected the Wildcats.
“It wasn’t the crowd that beat us, Deerfield beat us today. They beat us to pucks, they were stronger in the corners, they made the most out of scoring chances. I wouldn’t say the crowd had anything to do with it,” said Cunha.
In the first period, DA scored three goals, with the first a shorthanded goal just under five minutes into the game. A Big Green player took a shot from the top of the left circle. It deflected off a Williston player and found its way past Williston goaltender Tim Nowacki.
Seven minutes later, Deerfield struck again. Senior forward Trevor Yates skated into Williston’s defensive zone and scored on a backhand shot. Yates, who is tied with the most goals (20) for Deerfield, has committed to Cornell University for college hockey.
Deerfield then took a 3-0 lead with 4:53 remaining in the first period.
Before the second period, Cunha told his team, “They’re not earning their goals right now. We gave them three in an eighteen-minute period…Plain and simple, they want it more.
After the first period, each team scored two goals, but Williston was unable to make up for the three goals allowed in the first period.
To start the second period, sophomore goalie Shane Mason replaced Nowacki in net for Williston. DA took a four-goal lead when senior forward Sam Lafferty, the team’s leader in points (47), and a Brown University commit, scored 5:14 into the period.
Two minutes later, junior forward Brandon Bork put Williston on the board when he tapped the puck into goal right in front of the net. The goal was assisted by junior forward Tyler Scroggins.
With just under two minutes remaining in the middle period, Yates scored his second goal of the game to give the Big Green a 5-1 lead.
In the third period, Williston found its stride and competed with Deerfield for eighteen minutes. The Wildcats scored the lone goal in the final period with just five seconds remaining after Williston pulled Mason to put a sixth skater on the ice. The goal was scored by Bork, his second of the game, and assisted by Scroggins and junior forward Rourke Ferguson.
This was the third time this season an opponent has beaten Williston by three or more goals.
Although the team hasn’t won a game since the end of January, the Wildcats are still able to make the playoffs. Cunha said after the game, “Did we play 54 [minutes]? We did not play 54. Did we get everybody’s best effort? No, we did not get everybody’s best effort. Are we still in contention [for the playoffs]? Yes, we are still contention and that is what we have to know going home from here.”
This upcoming week, the Wildcats have three games against teams with losing records. Earlier this season, Williston defeated two of those opponents, Albany Academy (7-14-3) and Winchendon (10-13-2). On Saturday, February 22nd, Williston will play its final regular season game against Pomfret (3-19-2). Williston will need to win all three of these games to have a chance to make it into the playoffs.