Top scorer Williams shines in final year
The goal siren of the Ice Arena has become a familiar sound for Christine Williams these days.
With 20 points in just 21 games this season, the senior forward has emerged as one of the team's leaders while helping the Bengals remain in the thick of the ECAC West playoff race.
Head coach Rob Burke said it's no surprise that Williams has been a constant difference maker for the team all season long.
"(Williams) is so fundamentally sound that it allows her to be good on a consistent basis," Burke said. "With Christine, you know that you're going to get the same desire to compete and succeed every game."
Williams joined Buffalo State during the mid-season break of the 2008-09 season after a near two-year hiatus from playing competitively while attending Niagara University.
Williams said she hated being away from hockey, so when her good friend and then-Bengal Casey Bull raved about the perks of playing for Buffalo State, she decided to transfer and join her old teammate.
"We were inseparable since we were 13. We played on every team together up until college, so it was awesome to be able to play with her again," Bull said. "She got me a lot of points growing up."
Burke said he was excited to welcome a player with such great potential to the team, too.
"Casey came to me and said ‘Coach, I know she (Williams) can help us,'" he said. "I recruited her a bit beforehand; I knew by the way she played that she had potential. I said ‘You let her know she has a spot.'"
Williams would eventually get Burke a lot of points, too. However, she struggled to find her legs while adjusting to the pace of college hockey, scoring just five points in 13 games.
"I didn't really know what to expect," Williams said. "I remember it was hard trying to get my confidence up. I started doubting myself."
But it didn't take long for Williams to regain that confidence. She scored nine goals in each of her next two seasons, combining for a total of 31 points over 48 games.
Heading into this season, Williams, along with fellow 2009 recruit and senior captain Bri Murphy were expected to be the main contributors offensively. But Burke said even he couldn't have imagined the duo would have this much success.
"When (Williams) scores, it's like the whole team gets a boost of energy," Burke said. "She plays with such fire, intensity and passion . . . the kid just wants to win.
"Give me a locker room full of Christines."
What makes Williams' season even more remarkable is her ability to produce despite consistently facing off against opponents from some of the highest-ranked teams in Division III, including in-conference powerhouses RIT, Elmira and Plattsburgh.
Williams admitted the recognition is nice, but said she doesn't deserve all the credit. Instead, she insisted her linemates should get more acknowledgment for her success.
"Playing with Bri and Jeyna (Minnick) makes everything that much easier," she said, "Bri is so good at creating chances with her speed, and Jeyna compliments us perfectly. All I have to do is put the puck in the net."
Williams is tied for 15th in scoring within the talent-laden ECAC West and is 13th in the nation with 13 goals. With four games remaining in the Bengals' season, she is on pace to finish with 16 goals and 24 points, placing her third all-time among Bengals over a single season for either category.
Williams also needs just four more points in order to solidify her standing as the second-highest scoring player in Buffalo State history. That will be an accomplishment she said she can be proud of.
"It feels good when you see all the hard work you put in pay off," she said. "Three years ago I would have never expected any of this."
Brandon Schlager can be reached my email at email@example.com.
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