by Team Reporter Nate Gordon ’16
With a 4-6 record to start 2015, WIlliston Boys Hockey has enough time to fix mistakes made in 2014.
From December 3rd to the 19th, the Wildcats lost five consecutive games. However, four of those losses were gainst top ten teams according to United States Hockey Report’s January 5th Prep Hockey Poll. WIlliston’s fifth loss was against St. Andrew’s College, the top team in Midwest Prep Hockey, in the first round of the St. Sebastian’s Holiday Tournament. After that loss on December 19th, the WIldcats won three consecutive games against Northwood Junior, Winchendon, and St. Sebastian’s over winter break. The team’s most recent game on January 3rd was a 4-3 loss to Nobles, ranked as the number eight team in the aforementioned poll.
Team co-captain and senior forward Tyler Scroggins said earlier this week, “The [toughest] part of our schedule is over, so we can only go up from here. I feel it’s going to be a good second half of the year.”
Scroggins added, “We’ve been playing a lot of good teams. But we have to think we can go into every game and win.”
In the team’s first ten games this season, there were two main factors that contributed to the team’s struggles. The first was the team’s tendency to not play as well in the first period as in the final thirty-six minutes. In each of Williston’s six losses this year, the Wildcats have conceded the first goal. In five of those losses, Williston was down by at least one goal at the end of the first period.
Rourke Ferguson, team co-captain and forward, recently said, “We need to work on our starts to our games. I think we’ve let in the first goal of the game in the majority of the games we have played. That’s deinfitely a killer for us.”
The second area of concern for the team has been the number of minutes it spends in the penalty box each game. The Wildcats have averaged just under five penalties per game, which is about ten minutes on the penalty kill per game (penalty information was not posted on USHR for the team’s game against Gunnery). Against Nobles, both teams were very disciplined with Williston going to the box once for the only penalty of the game.
About the impact of penalties on the team, Scroggins said, “Penalties have been killing us a lot. We’ve been letting up a lot of shorthanded goals. Killing penalties makes us even more tired, so [if we stay out of the penalty box] it will make us a lot better team in the long run.”
Penalties were especially a problem earlier in the season when the Wildcats were still figuring out how to play shorthanded. Williston Head Coach Derek Cunha stated earlier this week that the the team’s penalty kill and power play has seen improvement in recent games.
“I think that special teams has gotten a lot better over the two tournaments [during winter break]. I think our penalty kill has gotten better,” Cunha said.
Williston vs. Berkshire, 3:15 p.m. @ Lossone Arena
On Saturday, December 10th, the Wildcats will host their fourth game of the season when they take on the Berkshire Bears (7-5) at 3:15 p.m. Williston and Berkshire have played similar schedules this season, with many mutual opponents. Like the WIldcats, the Bears have defeated Northwood, Canterbury, and St. Sebastian’s. Both teams have lost to Gunnery and Nobles.
Leading Berkshire in goals (8) in sophomore forward Matt Koopman (#10) (8 goals). Senior forward Zach Hale (15) leads the Bears in assists (9) and points (14).
Game updates will be available tomorrow via the team’s Twitter feed (@WillistonHockey).