GORHAM–Windham/Westbrook fell 6-0 in their season-opener vs. visiting Brunswick on Saturday night, Dec. 8. The still-young W/W squad simply found themselves overmatched by the upperclassmen-heavy Dragons, and even a strong performance by netminder Sean White couldn’t keep them in it.
“Yeah, certainly not the start we were hoping for tonight,” Windham/Westbrook head coach Greg Leclair said. “We talked before the game about, you know, winning battles, being first to the puck, and that didn’t happen…We let Brunswick bring the game to us, as opposed to taking the game to them, and when that starts flowing, it’s hard to punch off the ropes.”
The Dragons established a 1-0 advantage in the first period: Jacob Doring scored, late in the stretch, assisted by Jack St. Pierre and Mike Marro. So W/W were doing something right – they were keeping close on Brunswick’s heels, even if they hadn’t snuck the puck past Brunswick’s goalie.
But a rapid-fire pair of points at the start of the second broke W/W’s back. Marro scored (assisted by Mike Eno) and Doring scored (assisted by St. Pierre). The Dragons added one further point in the second, Isaac Burtis from Scout Masse making it 4-0 with just over a minute to play before the break.
Leclair had good things to say about his netminder, despite the lopsided score. “Sean did his job him. The six goals weren’t on him. We…need to defend better. We didn’t do a good job of clearing guys out of the front of the net. We didn’t do a good job of staring guys in the chest and not letting the body get around you. That last goal, guy walked right around the kid the front of the net, scored. That’s not on Sean. That guy should score that goal.
“We’ve just got to be better defensively, we’ve got to be quicker to the puck, and if you take care of those two things, a lot of other things just fall into place. When you’re not taking care of those things, you get outshot 20-something to nine, and outscored 6-0.”
W/W did generate a handful of chances – Brunswick just generated more, and (obviously) managed to convert. The Dragons added two final strikes in the last period: St. Pierre made it 5-0 on a feed from Henry Burnham and Eno made it 6-0 unassisted.
“We’ve just got to be crisper on the in the offensive zone,” Leclair said of his boys’ inability to capitalize. “We had some half-chances where we just didn’t pull the trigger. If we pulled the trigger, you never know. Guy’s going to the front of the net, and holds the puck a second too long, and the opportunity goes away.”
Asked what, in fact, when right for his kids, Leclair pointed to contributions by some of his younger players.
“A couple of our freshmen played played pretty well,” he said. “We had a freshman starting on D, we had a freshman on the first line wing – and a third kid, Cole Washburn, who did a nice job, and we’re gonna have to reassess his playing time, because he earned being out there more in our next game. He didn’t get a lot of shots, a lot of chances on the ice, but, second period, we had one shot on goal, and it was when he was on the ice. He helped contribute to creating that chance. He just worked hard, skated hard, was positive on the bench – things you’re looking for in a kid.”
As mentioned, W/W is still young. The team made use of numerous freshmen last year, and while those boys are back with a season’s experience under their respective belts, they’re still only sophomores.
“We had, in the lineup today, I think, 11 freshmen, sophomores. That’s a big learning curve,” Leclair said. “We’re asking those kids to go up against – Brunswick is a pretty senior-heavy team that you know. [Doring] and [St. Pierre], those kids are grizzled veterans as far as high school goes.”
Along with W/W’s relative youth comes relative smallness. “They’re big, they’re tall, they’re strong,” said Leclair of the Dragons. “We’re a smaller team, so we’ve got to do some different things to match up against teams and we’ll get. It’s a process, and we’d all like the process to be instantaneous, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.”
W/W opens the season at 0-1; the team travels to Mr. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse on Tuesday, Dec. 11, before taking a week off. They reconvene on Wednesday the 19th for home bout with Cony/Monmouth/Hall-Dale.
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Chandler Chenard chases a Brunswick opponent.
Colin Casserly works in the corner for W/W.
Austin White cuts through mid-ice with control.
Cam Joyce dashes up-ice for Windham/Westbrook.
Aidan Hartwell battles a Dragon.
Holden Anderson chases a Dragon up the boards.
Sean White turned in a strong performance for W/W; the shots that slipped past him, practically nobody would’ve saved.
Tommy Lekousi, just a sophomore this year, has already earned himself the Captain’s mantle (alongside senior Derek Corbett).