Saint staving off the sophomore slump
Hockey: Okotoks' David Williams thriving in return to St. Scholastica lineup
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 06:00 am
A series of serious injuries has an Okotoks college hockey star believing in the myth of a sophomore slump.
It’s been that kind of season for Okotoks native David Williams with the NCAA’s St. Scholastica Saints.
Williams sustained fractured ribs in his first practice session of the season, setting the tone for an injury-riddled sophomore campaign. Since then he’s suffered a strained MCL, a serious concussion, which sidelined him for over a month from hockey and from completing his semester at school, and he’s currently playing with a suspected fractured bone in his foot.
“It’s a pretty big joke around here that people always go through that (slump),” Williams joked about the second-year jinx. “You don’t know how weird it is when you’re not playing. It sucks to watch practice everyday. You want to be out there so bad and you can’t. I just battled through that and I’m lucky to be back now.”
Williams has made up for lost time on the ice via a terrific month of January for the Saints. Following a two goal, four-point weekend the Okotoks product was named the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association’s (NCHA) player of the week on Jan. 21, the first Saint to accomplish the feat this season.
“It has been a pretty rough year so it’s good to have something like that,” said Williams, who has recorded four goals and eight points in 12 games in 2012-13. “I’ve just got a little more jump in my step. After being out for so long you’re pretty fired up to be back.”
The 22-year-old’s return to the lineup has coincided with a turnaround month for the previously struggling Saints.
Following a disappointing first half to the season wherein St. Scholastica sat at the bottom of the standings with a 3-9 mark, the Saints have rebounded with a respectable record of 5-3-1 in the New Year.
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The Duluth-based school is just four points behind both University of Wisconsin-Superior and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for fourth in the conference.
“Christmas break really helped us because we obviously had a rough first half and people were starting to get frustrated,” Williams said. “When everyone came back it was a totally different atmosphere. Everyone is happy again and I really think that’s why we’re turning it around.”
Williams’ rollercoaster sophomore season is in stark contrast to a rookie campaign that stayed on track. He dressed in all 27 games in 2011-12, registering five goals and seven points en route to being the first St. Scholastica freshman to be named to the NCHA All-Rookie Team.
“I’m really fortunate with how it worked out,” Williams said. “It really makes you feel more at home when you don’t worry about whether you’re playing every game so you can get into a routine there. It really helped me as a hockey player.”
It’s been a whirlwind tour through Western Canada before Williams landed in the State of Hockey.
The six-foot-two forward attended Red Deer Lake School from Kindergarten to Grade 9 before finishing off his high school education at the famed Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, SK. Williams switched gears to Junior hockey the following season and scored the championship series winning goal for Parksville, BC’s Oceanside Jr. B Generals in 2008-09.
Two years with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Waywayseecappo Wolverines was capped with a 56-point season in 2010-11, earning Williams a look from Division III NCAA hockey at St. Scholastica.
The journeyman is now the apprentice in Duluth as Williams has been a mentor of sorts to teammate, roommate and fellow-Okotokian Joel Paiement, a rookie forward for the Saints.
“I told him everything I knew from last year before he came here and things are going pretty good,” said Williams, whose yet to be lined up with his roommate in games. “We practised for about a week together and had some good chemistry from playing shinny in the summer. It was fun while it lasted.”
The Saints are looking to keep the good times rolling and continue their forward march into the Peters Cup playoffs.
“The biggest thing is you want to be playing your best hockey at the end of the year,” Williams noted. “It’s not really how you start. It’s how you finish. You only have to win four games to win the league title. We’re looking to be hot at the end of the year and to roll into playoffs.”
To keep track of Williams and St. Scholastica’s bid for the Peters Cup go to www.csssaints.com.