Wildcats Finding Success, But Have Two Tough Games Ahead

by Team Reporter Nate Gordon ’16

For the second time in two games, Williston Boys Hockey (9-7-1) found itself up by two goals entering the third period. And once again the Wildcats held on, this time defeating Albany Academy (11-7-2) 4-3 on the road.

A number of rarities occurred in this game, including two shorthanded goals by the Wildcats and a six-on-three power play goal for the Cadets.

Senior Justin Lindsay gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead 7:33 into the game. On the penalty kill, Lindsay intercepted the puck at his own blue. Skating down the ice, Lindsay had teammate JoJo Carbone on his left, but decided to keep the puck and hit the top right corner of the net. About the goal, his third of the season, Lindsay said after the game, “Going down [the ice], I saw JoJo to my left, but I thought that with him on the left side, he’s a right-hander, I thought it might not have worked out the best way [to pass to him]. I saw the goalie was down a little bit lower and just took the shot.”

Albany tied the game at one on the power play seven minutes into the second period. But  seconds later, Carbone ’17 gave the Wildcats the lead. Two minutes later, senior forward and team co-captain Tyler Scroggins put Williston up by two goals. With 6:51 to go in the second period, team co-captain Rourke Ferguson ’15 scored the team’s second shorthanded goal of the game to put Williston up by three.

In the final minutes of the second period, two Wildcats were sent to the penalty box. Down by three goals, Albany made the bold decision to pull its goaltender, a tactic generally used when a teams wants to tie a game in the final minutes of the third period. With a six-on-three advantage with an open net, the Cadets risked giving up an easy goal with an open net. But the risk paid off and Albany cut its deficit to two heading into the third period.

The final eighteen minutes were relatively uneventful. The Cadets scored with 2:05 to play, but that was not enough time for them to tie the game, despite pulling their goalie with just under a minute to play.

The Wildcats have recently been plagued by an excess of penalties. In the team’s last two games, the Wildcats have gone to the box fifteen times and given up three shorthanded goals. The team is working on taking fewer undisciplined penalties.

One player who has brought a physical presence to the team without finding himself in the penalty box is junior forward Tiger Lindsay, Justin’s younger brother. In his second year on the team, Tiger was recently moved to forward from defenseman just after the team’s holiday tournaments. While his name does not always appear on the score sheet, Tigeroften finishes his checks which creates opportunities for his linemates. Tiger said after this game about his play, “Because a lot of people got injured and I was moved into the forward position, I’d never played it before, I thought I could really bring a physical aspect to the game. I’ve just been trying to be a big help to my line.”

About the transition to forward, Tiger said, “[I’ve learned] you have to move your feet a lot more, you get a lot more ice time out there. It’s different, but I like it and I can skate with the puck a lot more.”

Lindsay ’15 said about the team holding on to defeat Albany, “We played real good defensively, there were a lot of blocked shots. There was just a lot of hustle and it was a great job by Shane [making many] of those critical saves.

Shane Mason ’16 made a number of important glove saves throughout the game. He stopped 25 of Albany’s 28 shots (.893%).

Looking Ahead

The Wildcats get just one day off before they head to Westminster (11-6-0) on Monday, February 2nd to take on the Martlets. Now two games above .500, the Wildcats have put themselves in a good position to start the final month of the regular season.  Westminster enters the game having won its last four of five. Yesterday, January 31st, the Martlets defeats Kent 4-2 on the road. Westminster has four players who have committed to play Division 1 hockey. (To see a full list of college hockey commits, click here.) Taggart Corriveau ’16 leads the team in goals (17) and points (23).

Two days later, the Wildcats will face Loomis Chaffee (17-2-0) who, according to USHR’s most recent Prep Poll, is the number one team in New England. The Pelicans won their first nine games and then lost for the first time on January 7th. They then won their next six, but suffering their second loss of the season against Avon this past Wednesday. Since then, Loomis has defeated Kingswood Oxford and Andover. Loomis has five players who have made a commitment to play Division 1 college hockey.  The team’s leader in goals (17) and points (30) is senior forward Alex Esposito who will play at the University of Vermont.

Williston does not play next weekend as it is the school’s winter long weekend. When the team returns, it will play its last seven regular season games.

In the final month of the season, every game, even every goal could be the difference in whether or not the Wildcats will qualify for the playoffs near the end of this month.

Williston Head Coach Derek Cunha told the team before a practice last week, “Every game is playoff mentality. Every [game] is important. The biggest game of the season for us is going to be that next one on the calendar. Practices are our games, games are our playoffs.”

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