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February 22, 2024

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BG forward gains rhythm after sitting last season

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Bryce Williamson, BG forward, stretches for the puck against Cory Shneider, an Ohio State forward. BG swept the Buckeyes earlier this season.

Last season, injuries helped keep Bryce Williamson off the ice for nine games.

The missed time essentially prevented him from getting into any sort of rhythm during the middle of the season, where he missed most of his games. Once he came back, however, he was as good as any player on the BG hockey team.

He finished the season on a tear, scoring four points in his final five games, including the game-winning goal in game three of the Falcons’ first-round Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoff series against Northern Michigan. To put that number in perspective, he had only three points during the previous 27 games.

While he said he can’t pinpoint why he has had better luck with his health this season, he has played in all 26 of BG’s games, developing a sort of consistency that has helped him find a groove.

“It’s been good; I’ve played with a lot more confidence and I want to keep rolling with that,” Williamson said.

That confidence is clearly visible in his on-ice production.

Much like the rest of the team, Williamson has shot the puck more this season. His 64 shots are second on the team and are eight more than he took all of last season, despite having played in six fewer games.

As a result, he has scored more goals. His seven on the season leads the team.

“I’m just trying to shoot more and get open for my line mates,” Williamson said. “When I get the chances, I just try to bury them.”

One of those line mates, freshman Ryan Carpenter, has seen firsthand the change in Williamson’s game this season. Along with Brett Mohler, the trio formed arguably BG’s top line for the first half of the season.

However, Mohler was recently lost for the remainder of the season because of a shoulder injury, splitting up the line. But, for a time, they were able to feed off each others games.

“Williamson’s really fast, and [Williamson and Mohler] both have really good hands and good vision, and both are really talented in the offensive zone,” Carpenter said.

While Williamson has always been know as an offensive player – he scored 41 goals and had 107 points in his final season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League – it’s the growth in his defensive game that has earned increased trust from coach Chris Bergeron.

Last season, he had a minus-14 on-ice rating and blocked only five shots. This season, both numbers have significantly improved.

While still not where he’d like it to be, his on-ice rating has improved to a minus-3 and he has blocked 14 shots.

“He’s harder to play against, he’s harder in practice, he’s harder on pucks,” Bergeron said. “He’s a guy who’s been counted on a lot, but that’s based on what he’s done, we haven’t handed Bryce anything. Now, he’s killing penalties for us and…that’s something he’s getting pretty good at, and I think that based on the mentality that we developed last year of just expecting more and not settling for just OK.”

One of the most important changes for Williamson has been comfort zone. Now with a year and a half of college hockey experience, he is no longer one of the new guys on the team. He is more familiar with what to expect on a nightly basis, and that has shown in his game.

“You’re further along, you know a little more, and I guess you’re a little more confident going in knowing that you’ve been there before, you’ve played in that situation,” Williamson said.

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