By Rob LaPlante
Sports Editor- Link to the Journal Press Sports Column
Usually a tie in hockey doesn't result in loud music pumping from the locker room. Thanks to a series of huge penalty kills, and a clutch goal late in regulation, a 4-4 season-opening tie at home last Saturday against Osseo was worthy of post-game music for the Buffalo boys' hockey team.
Bison junior forward Gunnar Goodmanson made his season debut scoring the first of three goals in the opening period. He gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead after skating down the left-wing boards and firing a wrist shot that beat Osseo goalie Connor Dahlberg. Osseo's Seth Younkers quickly answered and the two teams skated to the locker rooms tied 1-1 after the opening period.
Senior defenseman Justin Laven made it 2-1 early in the second period with a soft shot from the point that found its way to the back of the net. But for the second time, Osseo answered shortly after on a goal by Brenden Hoben.
Midway through the second period, Goodmanson gave the Bison their third lead of the game 3-2. Much like his first goal, Goodmanson took a pass from junior forward Jake Ramsey and broke down the wing on a two-on-one and stepped into a wrist shot that again beat Dahlberg on the far side. Ramsey assisted on both Goodmanson goals.
"The defenseman on both plays took away the pass," Goodmanson said. "I just got it to the net looking to get a shot on net."
While momentum was on their side, a series of events midway through the second period cost the Bison two player ejections and seven minutes of penalties.
A 5-minute major for boarding spelled an early shower for Bison junior forward Jerame Schuetzle. Moments later, the Orioles took advantage with a highlight reel goal scored on the power play by Mason Hautala. Skating towards the slot, Hautala pulled the puck between his legs and sent a between-the-legs forehand shot past a surprised Bison goalie Mikey Otten.
During the major, a scrum near Otten resulted in matching minor calls to both teams, but Bison senior Hunter Thompson would draw an extra minor for roughing and was ejected for being the third-man in an altercation after the whistle.
"One of their guys came in and gave Otten a shot and Laven stood up like he should and pushed the Osseo guy out of there," Goodmanson said. "Their guy started throwing punches and once the referee thought he had it under control, Thompson pushed their guy to the ground and that's an automatic ejection."
With two of their top players gone, both Otten and the penalty killers stepped up and killed off an Osseo 2-man advantage to start the third period. But the momentum gained from power play time resulted in an even strength goal scored by Hautala. It gave Osseo its first lead of the game 4-3.
"I think the penalties at the end of the second period got us in trouble," said head coach Aaron Johnson. "We had to kill off seven minutes straight and a lot of our top players killing that seven minutes got a little tired and they can't go quite as well offensively after that."
"It was a setback," described Otten, on the team losing focus midway through the game. "But we have a pretty deep team and other guys stepped in and did a pretty good job."
With time running down, Goodmanson seemed to hit the ice every other shift. With 5:31 left in period three, Goodmanson skated behind the net and from a near impossible angle, fired a shot that snuck through the pads of Dahlberg and tied the game 4-4. It was the first career varsity hat trick for the Buffalo forward. Afterwards, a smiling Goodmanson tried to explain the goal.
"For sure," he said laughing, when admitting if it was a fluke goal. "I was looking to just get it on net and create a rebound or some scoring opportunity. It just happened to go in the net."
Neither team could muster much offense in the final five minutes and eight minutes of sudden death overtime. Both teams had two shots in the extra session, but the game finished in a 4-4 tie.
Afterwards, Bison players and coaches appeared satisfied with a hard fought effort against a tough Northwest Suburban Conference team in Osseo.
"Obviously, you want to win hockey games," Johnson said. "But that's a pretty positive tie on our part. Battling back like we had to and losing Hunter and Jerame, that's a pretty positive tie for us."
"I felt we started out strong," Otten said. "It's a new season, new coach and new systems. We started off well and we're only going to progress."
Buffalo was at Bloomington Kennedy on Tuesday night. Due to early holiday deadlines, results of this game will be in next week's issue. Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. they are on the road at Coon Rapids.