Senior right winger Will Ortiz scored the game-winning goal in the University of Massachusetts' 3-2 upset of Boston University on Friday night. High school hockey fans from Eastern Massachusetts will remember when Ortiz terrorized the Bay State Conference while playing at Framingham High.
The 23-year-old Ortiz, who skates on the second line, relives Friday's goal for ESPNBoston.com and circles the rink on other topics in a Q&A:
Q: Take us back to that winning goal two minutes into the third period and how it unfolded.
A: It was just a great effort by Danny Hobbs. We emphasized the speed that we come back with, the speed that we attack with. We were coming through the neutral zone with a lot of speed and Danny made a great play going to the net, beat his defender, and got the puck to the net. I just crashed the net very hard, did my job, and tried to lure the defenseman toward me. The puck turned out to be right there and it was just a good bounce off a great effort by Danny Hobbs.
Q: BU was pressuring for much of the third period, but Paul Dainton came up with some big stops in net. He finished with 39 saves. How big was Dainton's performance in your view?
A: If not for him, we wouldn't have been in the game. Just a great effort. Paul stood on his head. It was also an all-around effort. One of the things that stands out is that we weren't playing to lose. We were playing to win.
Q: How would you describe the atmosphere in the Mullins Center? The announced crowd was 8,123.
A: Unbelievable. Everybody came out; it's homecoming weekend. For our program to get a big win against the defending national champs, it was a great atmosphere and a great start to the season. Now we have to look forward to the next weekend.
Q: What was coach [Don] Cahoon's message to the team after the game?
A: I think his message was that we had a great game, enjoy it right now, but come Monday it is time to come to work and worry about [facing] Maine.
Q: What do you think a win like this says for the UMass program? Or would it be too much to read into one game?
A: I'd say it's too much to lean on one game, but it's good for us to know that we are competing with the top-notch schools right now. We believe we are a top-notch team right now. It was just a big win for us as a program, as a team, to prove to ourselves that we are here, and we are here to stay.
Q: Let's look back at your career, which has strong roots in the region. You went to Framingham High, then prep school at Salisbury, and now you are in your final year at UMass. How would you sum up your hockey career at this point?
A: It's been a long journey. It's definitely been a learning road. I've been through my ups and downs. The transition is just great and I feel like I've accomplished a lot, academically and athletically. I think the biggest thing is that I've grown as a person. I've matured as a person. I've learned from my mistakes and have tried to capture every opportunity that has come in front of me. I've met a lot of great people along the way and I'm grateful for where I am today. Playing Division I hockey was my dream when I was at Framingham High. Coach Cahoon gave me the opportunity, and I'm happy with the choice I made coming to UMass. Now it's wherever the road takes me, whether it's hockey or pursuing a different career.
Q: Almost every player wouldn't be where they are today without the help of a coach, or coaches. Who are some of the coaches that have helped you get to this point in your career?
A: It all started for me when I was younger. I had a great coach growing up, a mentor, Jimmy Savard. Then when I was playing at Framingham High, Paul Spear helped me out a lot. He took me under his wing. Then when I went to Salisbury, Dan Donato was an unbelievable coach. I learned a lot about the game, and it's taken me to a road where there is plenty of opportunity. I also have to give thanks to my parents. They have stuck by me through the ups and downs.
Q: Off the ice, what are you majoring in?
A: I'm a finance major in the Isenberg School of Management.
Q: If not hockey, what are some of your interests outside of hockey?
A: As of right now, I'm leaning toward Teach for America. But I could pursue a career in finance. I interned this past summer at a claim accuracy firm, where I did their accounts payable and accounts receivable. I don't know where it will go at this point, but I feel like I've put myself in a great situation, a great position, whatever direction I choose to go.
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.