In what was already a special night for the Williston boys hockey team who donned special military-inspired jerseys emblazoned with the crests of each of the armed services in honor of military appreciation night, the Wildcats took it a step further by defeating their green and white rival, #11-ranked Deerfield, in a Lossone Arena that was packed to the hilt with spectators and fans of both clubs. The energy was palpable from the get-go, the music was bumping, and the action was intense. In the end, Williston was able to garner three goals to Deerfield’s two, taking their first game off the Green Doors in the last six years.
Williston got on the board just :46 seconds into the tilt when, toward the end of their shift, Hunter Sarro worked a puck in the neutral zone to James Belleavoine who broke down the left side of the ice into the Deerfield zone and made a pass across the top of the crease to a streaking Cam Mariani who deflected the puck past Dartmouth-bound goalie, Thomas Gale. The rest of the period was a battle with gritty plays and explosive body-checks echoing around the Quonset hut of Lossone. Williston entered the first intermission up, 1-0.
In the second, Williston added to the lead at the 5:14 mark when, the Belleavoine-Mariani-Sarro line struck again. First, Sarro worked hard along the left offensive wall to keep up a puck in the zone, getting it down to the corner. Mariani raced to it, beat his man and with his back almost flush against the wall, made a tape-to-tape pass to a wide open Belleavoine, ten feet from the crease near the left-circle hashmarks. Belleavoine knew what to do and put a neat shot just past Gale’s glove. Big Red doesn’t fly off the handle often, but his celebration rivaled that of famed 1980s Rochester American blueliner Jim Hofford.
Deerfield would claw back three minutes later but Jake Sacratini got the eventual game winner when Matt Pimental worked a puck to Brendan Nehmer who broke in the Deerfield offensive zone, took a shot that was blocked but was quickly gathered by Sacratini in the mid-slot who took all that Vezio ever taught him and beat Gale glove-side. Sacratini said hello to the ice with his glove and then jumped high into the glass in celebration. The rest of the period continued to be a battle as both teams pounded one another trying to gain any advantage they could. As the horn sounded for the end of the period, Williston led, 3-1.
In the third, Williston fell back into a more defensive shell at times but one that kept Deerfield at bay allowing Wildcat goalie Kyler Breland to see and gather all incoming shots. Always a club with a flare for the dramatic, Williston gave up a late goal on a 6-5 after a Wildcat defender’s stick was slashed out of his hand, but the whistles were put away early in this contest, so no foul was called. After the goal, Williston coach Derek Cunha respectively disagreed with the no-call but to no avail. While the game still had two minutes left, Williston buckled down, sacrificed their bodies, and as the final horn blew, I swear some of the solar panels atop the arena were jostled free from the eruption of cheers and huzzahs emitted from the Williston faithful.
Deerfield outshot Williston, 36-22. The game puck was earned by Jake Sacratini whose strong play in Wednesday’s Canterbury game carried over to this one.
With the win, Williston inched one game closer to .500 and even closer to an elusive playoff birth, though the fates still hold the cards for the latter.
With just three remaining games left, Williston welcomes Albany on Wednesday afternoon. Fans will remember that Williston took one on the chin at the hands of the Cadets back in December when they lost in the first game of the St. Sebastian’s Holiday Tournament, 3-0. Williston, though, is a different team than two months ago, so look for an exciting rematch. Puck drops at 4pm on Wednesday at Williston. We look forward to seeing you there.