Often times you see it in professional and college hockey, but rarely in high school. The St. Michael-Albertville and Buffalo boys’ hockey teams squared off Jan. 19 at the Buffalo Civic Center in the first of back-to-back showdowns.
In a game that had nine goals and 74 shots, it was the Bison getting early bragging rights squeaking out a 5-4 victory. The building was near capacity as the two conference rivals fought on Hockey Day Minnesota.
“In hindsight, it was a good high school boy’s hockey game,” said head coach Jerr Johnson, who saw his team outshoot the Bison 41-33. “There were lots of fans. The game went back and forth. They just happened to get the last goal.”
After sophomore Tyler Hayes opened the scoring for the Knights, Buffalo’s Jake Ramsey and Hunter Thompson gave the Bison a 2-1 edge after one period. Senior David Anderson tied things 2-2, but again the Bison held the lead at the intermission when Aaron Rouse scored a short-handed goal making it 3-2.
The Bison jumped to a 4-2 lead in period three, but senior’s Mike Ryan and Zac Borgen tied things late. With only 1:21 left in regulation, Buffalo’s Cale Ehresmann scored the game winner.
“Once it was 4-2, we had talked on the bench about trying to get one goal before the 5-minute mark,” Johnson said. “Our guys battled hard. Hopefully we can get them at our place. It’s fun for the kids playing back-to-back games with the same team.”
The Bison improved to 4-0 in the Mississippi 8 with the win. The Knights dropped its first conference loss after two wins. Both wins came over Cambridge-Isanti, including a 7-4 win Jan. 17 at Isanti.
Again the Knights peppered the net, finishing with 47 shots on goal. They built a 4-2 lead on 37 shots after two periods. Goals from Junior Connor Spetz, senior Jon Gibbs, Anderson and senior Tanner Starr helped build the lead. Anderson, Spetz and junior Brett Marshall would score third period goals in the 7-4 win.
Gibbs finished with a goal and three assists. Spetz and Anderson each had two goals and an assist. Borgen finished with one assist. Johnson said the line of Borgen, Anderson and Gibbs has really stepped up of late.
“They were a minus against East Ridge, but they responded very well after that,” Johnson said. “I told David that he was the best player on the ice against Buffalo. He, Zac and Jon have done a nice job of stepping up and giving us a reliable No. 1 scoring line. I thought Connor was the best player on the ice against Cambridge. He’s gives us a lot of offensive punch from the blue line.”
The Knights suffered a 5-2 home loss early last week to East Ridge. After a scoreless first period, East Ridge took a 3-0 lead on three second-period goals. Anderson scored a power-play goal to make it 3-1 but two more goals by the Raptors made it 5-1. Junior Matt Kisch added a late goal for the Knights.
STMA returns home Thursday night at 7 p.m. in a rematch with Buffalo. Saturday at 3 p.m. they are at Monticello.
“Our goal is the conference championship,” Johnson said. “We felt early in the year the conference would go through either us or Buffalo. Thursday’s game will be big if we want a shot.”