Periodic Lapses Ruin Possible Big Win for Wildcats, Tie Berkshire 3-3

by Team Reporter Nate Gordon ’16

For much of this game, Williston Boys Hockey (4-6-1) played well enough to beat the top New England Prep Hockey teams. But periodic lapses against Berkshire (7-5-1) gave the Bears enough chances to stage a two-goal comeback.

Like many games this season, the Wildcats had an unproductive start to this game, which included numerous turnovers. A bad bounce led to Berkshire getting on the board first 3:49 into the game. From about the midway point of the first period until near the end of the second, Williston played some of the best hockey it has this season.

With just under four minutes to play in the first period, senior forward Jared Karas scored his third goal of the year to tie the game. Typically on  Williston’s top line, Karas has dealt with a few nagging injuries, so Williston Coach Derek Cunha decided to switch up the lines for today’s game.

Karas said after the game, “With injuries, Coach [Cunha] asked me to step in and play a different role on the team. I did what I had to do for the team.” About his goal, Karas said, “I’ve been struggling to score a lot lately, so I tried to focus on working hard and driving towards that net, and the puck just came right out to me and I put it in.”

The Wildcats dominated much of the second period, outshooting the Bears 15 to 12. Getting pucks to the net has been an issue for the Wildcats in recent games, but not in this period.

Just 2:36 into the second, junior defenseman RJ Guardia took a shot from behind the blue line which the Berkshire goaltender was unable to handle. In his second year on the team, this was Guardia’s first goal as a Wildcat.

About his goal, Guardia said after the game, “I was just shooting the puck on net, that’s all, and it happened to go in, nothing special. I was pretty excited about it.”

Six minutes later, on the power play, senior forward and co-team captain Tyler Scroggins extended Williston’s lead to 3-1.

In the third period, the Wildcats were unable to sustain the momentum they had created in the second period. Their play in this part of the game was similar to the team’s start to the game. The Bears scored just eleven seconds into the game, and tied the game with 14 minutes to play. The rest of the period was a back and forth game with neither team creating good scoring chances.

About the team’s third period, Guardia ’16 said, “We just didn’t come out ready to play.  We gave them too much space in the neutral zone and they just ripped it home, we gotta come out firing next time.”

Both teams were unable to control the puck in the five-minute, sudden death overtime. The Wildcats got their best chances in the final seconds, but Berkshire’s goalie kept the game at a tie.

The Wildcats had 34 shots in this game, but just six in the first period, then 15 in the second, 13 in the third and overtime.

Junior goalie Shane Mason made his tenth start in net for Williston, stopping 35 of 38 (.921%) shots. Throughout the game, Mason prevented Berkshire from taken adavantage of prime scoring opportunities.

The Wildcats were without senior co-team captain forward Rourke Ferguson, and senior forward Quinn Griffin. Against Berkshire, junior forward Jack Kelly moved up to the team’s top line. Generally a defenseman, junior Tiger Lindsay joined the team’s third forward line. Tiger joined his older brother, senior Justin Lindsay, on this line.

This upcoming week is a big one for the Wildcats as they face three opponents, two at home. On Wednesday, Williston will face Worcester Academy (3-5) at home. Two days later the Wildcats will host Winchendon (4-8-2). The next day, Saturday, the team will make the long trip to try to avenge today’s third period when they take on Berkshire in Sheffield, Mass. A preview of this week will be posted on Tuesday.

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