Buffalo held a 2-1 lead through nearly all of the third period. Then Champlin Park tied it up on the second goal from junior forward Brady Swanstrom with 3:16 to play. Bison senior forward Connor Kuhlmann made a little mistake that led to that breakaway, said his coach Aaron Johnson.
He made up for it. Kuhlmann scored the unassisted game-winner with 1:57 left in the game to give the Bison (12-10-0, 7-2-0) a 3-2 victory over Champlin Park (11-11-0, 7-5-0) Tuesday night at Champlin Ice Forum. Both teams entered the game on two-game losing skids.
The final goal was Kuhlmann’s fourth of the season.
“Luke Ramsey caught a pass and had a guy on him, and he kind of just chipped it on the wall,” Kuhlmann said. “Then I took it down and cut back and had a good shot.”
Kuhlmann had the puck in the neutral zone, fought off a backchecker and cut to the middle of the ice, Johnson said. He got knocked down as he let go of his high shot that made it just underneath the crossbar.
“You love to see the kids step up and make amends for their own mistakes, and Connor did that there,” Johnson said.
While Kuhlmann scored the game-winner, it was the Bison’s leading goal scorer, senior forward Blake Habisch, who dazzled with his speed and a pair of second-period goals. He scored both goals in dramatic fashion—one shorthanded and one as time was running out in the middle frame.
His first tally came after the Bison went into the first intermission down 1-0. With the Bison down a skater, he took the puck through the neutral zone, moved around a defender in the Rebels’ zone and then fired it past the goaltender. Habisch said he used his speed to dish the puck around the defender and drag it to the net.
He’s a very noticeable player on the ice with his speed and work ethic, according to Johnson.
“He’s kind of a hidden gem, I think, in our state,” Johnson said. “A really good senior player for us.”
Habisch used his speed again in the closing seconds of the period. He held the puck in a 2-on-1 situation, once again firing a shot past the goalie. It put the Bison up 2-1 with 5.8 ticks on the clock before the second intermission.
“When it comes to my speed, that’s the one thing that I’ve had for most of my life,” Habisch said.
Continuing a theme this season, the Bison were strong on the penalty kill, leaving the Rebels 0-for-3 with the extra man.
“If we shut them down, that gives us energy,” Habisch said.
The Bison nearly had a pair of shorthanded goals, when senior forward Tom Rooney passed the puck over to senior defender Nick Mueller who just missed off the outside of the post.
The Bison have a 91.2 penalty kill percentage with four shorthanded goals this season. They have 14 goals on the power play.
“It’s been our strength all year, has been our kill, and that starts with our goaltender,” Johnson said. Sophomore goaltender Nathan Mueller made 29 saves Tuesday.
Habisch leads the Bison with 15 goals and 31 points on the season. Rooney assisted on both of his goals.
Sitting atop the Mississippi 8 Conference, the Bison will ride tonight’s momentum into Saturday’s game with St. Michael-Albertville, which will likely be for the conference title. The Bison shut out St. Michael-Albertville 3-0 on the road on Dec. 17.
"(St. Michael-Albertville) is our big rival," Johnson said. "So it will be easy to get the kids' attention and get our game back on point, I think."
Buffalo’s leading goal scorer, senior forward Blake Habisch, isn’t afraid to show off his speed. He scored a pair of goals in a 3-2 victory over host Champlin Park (11-11-0, 7-5-0) Tuesday night at Champlin Ice Forum. His teammate, senior forward Connor Kuhlmann, scored the game-winner with 1:57 left in the game.
Both teams came in on two-game losing skids and had identical overall records. Something had to give.
Habisch scored both goals in dramatic fashion—one shorthanded, one as time was running out in the second period. His first tally came just a few minutes into the middle frame, after his team went into the first intermission down 1-0. With the Bison (12-10-0, 7-2-0) down a skater, he moved the puck through the neutral zone, skated the puck around a defender in the Rebels’ zone and then fired it past the goaltender.
Habisch used his speed again in the closing seconds of the second. He held the puck in a 2-on-1 opportunity, once again firing a shot past the goalie. It put the Bison up 2-1 with 5.8 seconds on the clock before the second intermission.
The Bison looked strong on the penalty kill during the game, leaving the Rebels 0-for-3 on the power play. Later in the second while shorthanded, Buffalo’s senior forward Tom Rooney passed the puck over to senior defender Nick Mueller who just missed off the outside of the post.
He leads the Bison with 15 goals and 31 points on the season. Rooney assisted on both of Habisch’s goals.
Rebels junior forward Brady Swanstrom scored off a faceoff near the end of the first period.
In goal for the Bison, sophomore Nathan Mueller made 29 saves. Junior Avery Neisen made 19 stops in goal for the Rebels.
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