St. Michael-Albertville vs. Buffalo 

7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9

Buffalo boasts one of Class 2A's top defenses, one reason the Bison are sitting unbeaten atop the standings of a competitive Mississippi 8 Conference and closing in on their first league title since 2013.

Standing in the path is St. Michael-Albertville, which possesses a potent offense. The second-place Knights visit Buffalo on Saturday in what could be the final roadblock for a rolling Bison squad.

Buffalo has won eight straight entering the week and defense has been its calling card. The Bison shut out their last five opponents, including most of the league contenders. Buffalo posted a 4-0 victory over fourth-place Princeton (10th in the state at 5.00 goals per game) on Jan. 24 and a 7-0 win against third-place Monticello (and the Moose's 4.52 scoring average) on Jan. 5.

Buffalo's Nathan Mueller was in net for all five shutouts (he has a state-best six total this season) and started seven of the last eight games. The senior goaltender's 1.73 goals-against average is 11th in the state and his .933 save percentage is seventh, helping the Bison (12-6-2, 7-0-0) shut down opponents with a 1.80 goals-against average this season.

St. Michael-Albertville, however, hasn't succumbed to Buffalo's stranglehold defense, falling 4-3 in overtime on Jan. 10. The Knights (11-6-3, 7-2-0) have 52 goals in nine conference games, an average of almost six per contest.

It's an offense fueled by leading point-scorers Adam Flammang (25-24-49) and Luc Laylin (24-25-49), who are the Mississippi 8's third- and fourth- leading scorers and have combined to score a point or more in every conference game. Flammang has 11 goals and 16 assists in league play, while Laylin (19-11-30) has a goal in every conference game. Both finished with a goal and an assist in the loss to Buffalo.