The Buffalo boys’ hockey team spent the holiday weekend in Duluth at the 8-team Duluth Heritage Classic.
The Bison finished the 3-day tournament 1-2 overall, finishing in sixth place after losing 4-1 to Apple Valley in Saturday’s Consolation Championship.
Head coach Aaron Johnson said it was a bit of a disappointing weekend to come home with only one win. Buffalo defeated St. Louis Park 4-1 on Friday, but dropped Thursday’s opening game 2-1 in overtime to Bemidji.
“I was disappointed most because the losses came against teams that were pretty similar to us,” Johnson said. “We played well against Bemidji. That game could have gone either way. We just haven’t found ways to win hockey games.”
A third-period goal by senior Wilson Anderle tied the game with the Lumberjacks 1-1. Although they were outshot 31-19, Bison senior goalie Mikey Otten gave them a chance to win. The game would eventually end in overtime on Bemidji forward Jack Leitner’s second goal of the game at the 3:00 mark.
The loss forced the Bison into Friday’s loser’s bracket, and Buffalo rebounded for a convincing 4-1 victory over St. Louis Park.
The two teams exchanged first-period goals, one by Orioles forward Bauer Neudecker, and Anderle scored his second of the tournament with assists from seniors Loren Lindvall and Casey Anderson.
It was Anderle’s fifth goal of the season, and Anderson’s seventh point in seven games since his return to the lineup.
The goal was the first of four unanswered goals. Buffalo leading scorer Gunnar Goodmanson scored 10th and 11th goals of the season. Squeezed between was an even-strength goal by junior Jerame Schuetzle, assisted by junior Jake Ramsey and senior Hunter Thompson.
Goodmanson said he’s not surprised to see other guys stepping up.
“I wasn’t worried about the secondary scoring picking up,” Goodmanson said. “It was only a matter of time before guys started to bury it.”
Buffalo outshot the Orioles 30-23.
Playing their third game in three days, the Bison dropped a 4-1 game to Apple Valley in a game Johnson said was not indicative of the final score. Ramsey scored a third-period goal to cut Apple Valley’s lead to 2-1, but the Eagles’ Logan Kohorst put the game out of reach with the first of two third-period goals, which sent the Bison home with their third loss the past four games.
“I thought we controlled territorial play against Apple Valley,” Johnson said. “We didn’t have a lot of shots to show for our effort, but we didn’t play poorly. Scoring right now is an issue. Early in the season, Gunnar was scoring like crazy, but teams have really started to key on his line.”
Goodmanson’s two goals were enough to earn him a spot on the all-tournament team, which was hosted by Duluth-Denfeld. Goodmanson said he returned home with mixed emotions.
“We just need to learn how to win games and compete hard on every shift,” Goodmanson said. “We took too many shifts off this weekend which cost us.”
Rosemount defeated Cloquet 3-2 on Saturday to capture the tournament title. Johnson said the weekend as a whole was a good experience.
“We had a great stay,” Johnson said. “We have fun spending the weekend together.”
Buffalo (7-4-1) returns to action Thursday, Jan. 2 with a 7:30 p.m. showdown against Irondale at the Schwan’s Super Rink in Blaine. The next home game is Saturday, Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. against Chisago Lakes.