After Buffalo’s 4-0 win last Saturday at Coon Rapids, junior forward Gunnar Goodmanson had a couple young hockey fans waiting for him outside the Bison locker room.
Even though the kids were wearing Coon Rapids jerseys, the young boys quickly turned wide-eyed when Goodmanson finally came out to greet his new fans.
Goodmanson’s efforts coming into Saturday’s game at Coon Rapids has made more than just young kids turn wide-eyed. His five goals and six points in the Bison’s first two games were among the state leaders. It didn’t take long for him to register his team-leading sixth goal of the season, which gave Buffalo a 2-0 first-period lead over a Coon Rapids squad that was making their season debut. He later added an assist on junior Jerame Schuetzle’s second goal of the season.
While his two points were his lowest output in a game to date, Goodmanson was clearly the most dominant player on the ice at the Coon Rapids Ice Center. His speed, shooting, passing and physical presence have been evident. Twice in their win with Coon Rapids he laid out Cardinals players with open-ice hits. His impressive overall game has won him some new young hockey fans, but more importantly, both his coaches and teammates have also taken notice.
Schuetzle and junior Jake Ramsey are no strangers to playing with Goodmanson. It was Schuetzle’s goal late in the second period that gave the Bison their 4-0 cushion.
“Playing with Gunnar is always good. He always makes plays happen and you get a lot of good chances. You just try and get to the net,” Schuetzle said. “I’ve been playing on a line with him and Jake for a while, so the production is going to be pretty good.”
That production was evident in Buffalo’s 4-2 win Nov. 26 at Bloomington Kennedy. Trailing 2-1 midway through the hockey game, Goodmanson tied the score 2-2 with a shorthanded goal and later assisted on Schuetzle’s game winner in the third period. Goodmanson finished the contest with two goals and one assist and Schuetzle helped assist on the final goal that Ramsey buried into the open net. So far this season, the line has produced 16 total points.
Goodmanson’s notable production on the ice has been a drastic improvement from his sophomore season. He currently needs six more points to match his career-high point total (14) he finished with last year. Despite the improved numbers, the level of play hasn’t surprised his head coach Aaron Johnson.
“He’s always been confident with his abilities, and I think everything is finally coming together for him,” Johnson said. “I think now as a junior, he’s an upperclassman and now he has the physical maturities to go along with the skills. It’s fun to see how he’s playing right now.”
Buffalo’s fast start can be attributed to more than just one player. The defense and goaltending from senior Mikey Otten has been solid. Otten recorded his first win of the season over Kennedy and tallied his first shutout of the year against Coon Rapids.
Seniors Justin Laven and Loren Lindvall have provided stability from the back end. Laven has registered two goals. Reed Morehouse and Mike Sawdey have stepped in as sophomores and provided added depth from the blueline. Morehouse assisted on Goodmanson’s goal at Coon Rapids.
Johnson called the Cardinals win one of the best overall efforts to date.
“I think it’s up there,” Johnson said. “There was a little bit at the end of the second period and start of the third where we got away from doing the things that gave us success. But they play hard every night and that’s a great place to start. Right now we’re finding our game, and it’s fun to see the development over the first few weeks.”
While the Goodmanson, Schuetzle and Ramsey line has accounted for nearly all the offense, senior forward Wilson Anderle scored the Bison’s third goal at Coon Rapids. It was Buffalo’s first goal outside of their top line and Schuetzle said he’s noticed everyone gaining more confidence.
“As a team, it was probably our best effort of the year,” said Schuetzle, who had two goals and an assist through three games. “Three lines deep, we all had good chemistry, got pucks to the net and had good chances. It was a good effort from everyone.”
Buffalo looks to stay undefeated when they kick off the first of a four-game homestand this Friday at 7 p.m. against Monticello. Also part of the home dates will be a section game at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday against Moorhead. They return to conference play with a 7 p.m. showdown next Thursday against St. Michael-Albertville and close with a 7 p.m. matchup Saturday against Cambridge-Isanti.
“I think we’re starting the year out good, and we’re going in a good direction too,” Schuetzle said.