The 100th goal in St. Albert Steel history by Bryce Williamson was the latest milestone in a season of excellence by the all-star right-winger.
“It’s a pretty big accomplishment,” Williamson said after Friday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Sherwood Park Crusaders at Performance Arena. “I’m proud of myself for doing that.”
Williamson, 20, hit triple digits in goals at 18:08 in period one as he victimized Crusaders’ netminder Matt Esposito on the power play. D'Lane Sather was in the penalty box for slashing when the Steel’s all-time career scoring whiz banked the puck in. Reed Linaker and Spencer Pommells were credited with assists.
“There was a scramble and I just spun around and shot the puck,” Williamson said. “I guess I caught their goaltender off guard and it just went underneath his arm and off the post and off his back and into the net.”
The fourth-year Alberta Junior Hockey League veteran from Seba Beach knew he was one goal shy of 100 going into the game but the magnitude of the moment didn’t register until the scoring feat was announced at the start of period two.
“It was just another goal at the time. It put us up 2-0, which was nice.”
The historic marker was scored in his 174th Steel game.
“Obviously it’s a testament to the guys that I’ve been playing with,” said Williamson, the triggerman on an explosive line combination with all-star centre Reed Linaker and the rugged Alex Perkins. “I’ve played with some pretty good players and without them I wouldn’t get 100 goals.”
Williamson’s 101st Steel goal, and his 40th of the season, was an empty netter on a shot from deep in St. Albert’s zone in Sunday’s 4-2 home-ice decision against the AJHL champion Grande Prairie Storm (38-17-1-2). It was also the third point of the game by the Steel’s MVP in 2008/09.
His assist on the third goal in two games by Perkins in Monday’s 4-1 loss in Fort McMurray against the Oil Barons (36-18-1-2) was the 99th point in 57 games for the AJHL’s second highest scorer. The leading candidate for the Ernie Love Trophy as the league’s top point producer is Zahn Raubenheimer, with 101 points in 58 games.
The assist also extended Williamson’s point scoring streak to 18 games (14 goals and 19 assists). He failed to register a point in only seven games, including three shutout losses.
The franchise leader in games played (176), goals (101), assists (129), points (230), power play goals (44) and game winners (13) is also closing in on 250 points in the AJHL. In 221 games the former Fort Saskatchewan Trader recorded 108 goals (his 100th in the AJHL was sniped Jan. 8 in his 207th game, a second period tally against Canmore Eagles’ goalie Sam Brittain in a 6-5 road win) and 134 assists for 242 points.
The Steel (23-27-2-5) have three games remaining before the playoffs for Williamson to rack up the points.
“If we can play a full 60 minutes, our team can win some hockey games and do well in the playoffs,” said Williamson, who will play next season with the Bowling Green State University Falcons in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
The loss in Fort McMurray against a potential north division first round opponent left the Steel two points back of the fifth-place Bonnyville Pontiacs (26-29-2-1) with a game in hand. A fifth-place finish would set the stage for a possible playoff confrontation with the Crusaders (31-17-2-7). The teams butt heads tonight in Sherwood Park at 7 p.m.
In Friday’s tilt the Steel jumped out to an early lead on goals by Pommells and Williamson.
The Crusaders pulled even in period two with a power-play goal by Adam Burns at 9:57 and a shorthanded strike by all-star Cody Kunyk at 11:44 that Steel goalie Chad Ketting should have stopped.
The Steel dominated the third period shot-wise 17-6 but despite tons of glorious chances and two power play opportunities, failed to put the puck past Esposito.
Early in the five minute OT period of four-on-four hockey, an unchecked Sather made amends for his first period penalty by going upstairs on Ketting. Shots overall were 41-28 by the Steel.
“We played a pretty good game but we had a couple of letdowns and it ended up costing us,” Williamson said. “We came up on some good goaltending there at the end, but with the playoffs coming up we’ve got to have that killer instinct. We’ve got to bury the puck when we get the chance so that we don’t let teams hang around and get a goal in overtime like that.”