Sophomore forward Conor Williams faces-off against DU at the Rec Center on Oct. 31, 2008. Despite an injury in the second period Williams returned in the third to help the Buffs defeat the Pioneers 7-2. (CU Independent file/Molly Maher)
Leadership, finesse and threat are just a few of the words used to describe forward Conor Williams’ presence on the CU club hockey team. Williams is considered one of the best players in the league, and the Buffs’ secret weapon when the puck is on their side.
“Lately, he is bringing a lot of leadership,” said freshman defender and teammate David Starr. “He’s got a great shot, probably one of the best I have ever played with in my life. For me, I just want to get him the puck, and I know that more than 80 percent of the time, it’s going to go in the net.”
His famous shot didn’t come without a lot of experience.
Williams has played since he was four years old, and ever since then hockey became a huge part of his life. During his senior year, Williams went to a hockey prep school in Ohio, and before coming to CU, he took a year off of academics to pursue other athletic endeavors.
“I think I bring a good amount of experience, and leadership,” Williams said. “A lot of the guys look up to me and stuff even when I was younger.”
Starr and assistant coach Andy Stone all describe Williams as a finesse player more than an aggressive one.
Williams says it’s how he grew up.
“I have always been a finesse player my whole life,” Williams said. “I was real small growing up playing hockey. I wasn’t the most physical guy and I attribute that to just growing up and being smaller than the rest of the kids my age, and being fast.”
Starr said he’s not only skilled, but “at times he can be aggressive when he gets mad; he’s quick and he likes to get to the outside areas and be able to shoot, but he’ll mix it up.”
Williams’ finesse doesn’t mean he hasn’t seen his fair share of hockey brawls. He described one of the craziest fights he has seen in his career.
“In prep school, the last game of the season we were playing our rivals, and there was a line brawl and that is everyone on the ice, five guys fighting. The goalies even got into a little bit,” Williams said. “Everyone was yelling and screaming, and we’re down a couple of points. Just one little hit on our goalie led to a brawl. I mean it was fun, and something I won’t forget.”
For Starr, he learned how talented Williams was very early in the season.
“In the beginning of the year, he had a four-goal game, and from then on I knew he was really good,” Starr said.
Stone has seen Williams’ progress over the last two years, and knows what an asset he is to their team.
“Well, when he decides to play, he by far can be one of the best players in the league, nationwide,” Stone said. “He has all the potential in the world. He’s got all the skill.”
As far as improvement from last year, Stone says he has seen his mentality improve tremendously.
“He’s figuring out he doesn’t have to do everything on his own. Definitely passes a lot more and has become a lot more involved with the team instead of going out there and trying to do it all by himself,” Stone said.
But his most notable talent, always comes back to his shot.
“He’s always got that threat there, he’s just got one of the most wicked shots I have ever seen,” Stone said. “Anytime he’s got the puck, I know it’s a threat to go in.”
What can we expect from Williams in the next few years? Well, he’s optimistic about continuing to play after college, but time will tell.
“I got another year here, we’ll see what happens,” Williams said. “I know a lot of guys that have come out of this program and played in Europe, so that would definitely be fun for a year or two. “I am definitely keeping my options open; I’d love to keep playing wherever I end up, for as long as I can.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Gina Yocom at Gina.email@example.com.
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