The Buffalo Bison got back on the winning track with a 6-1 victory over the Irondale Knights, Thursday evening. The Bison were paced by players familiar with the score sheet and a new comer to lighting the lamp.
Playing without big-minute co-captain defenseman Justin Laven, sophomore Luke Merz (2-0-2) stepped in to fill the void. Merz potted his first two goals in a varsity uniform, including the eventual game winner.
Merz first goal came at the 4:22 mark of the second period. After some nifty cycling from the line of Jordan Carlson, Jake Michalko, and James McNamara; Merz slide from the blue-line down and Michalko slipped the puck to the defenseman. Merz fired a quick wrister past goalie Aaron Steiner for his first goal.
Merz finished the scoring with a 4-on-4 goal. Merz trailed a 2-on-1 break, found the puck in the high slot, and blasted a slapper past Steiner. The goal was scored with the Bison’s four sophomores on the ice as assists went to Brady Hartman and Kevin Kemp.
Senior co-captain Wilson Anderle (6-6-12) opened the scoring and continued his strong season. The Bison’s top line of juniors Jerame Schuetzle (6-8-14), Gunnar Goodmanson (12-7-19), and Jake Ramsey (5-13-18) each had a goal and an assist in the victory. Mikey Otten won for the eighth time and stopped 20 Knights’ shots.
Coach Rory Dynan was please by the progression through the game, “we didn’t have the effort and intensity to win through the first period. But the boys picked up their game in the second and especially the third. We intend to grow off that third period.”
Sophomore D-man Luke Merz celebrates his first varsity goal
Goodmanson blocks a shot on the penalty-kill
Otten makes the biggest save of the season
Anderson & Anderle track down the Wildcats
On Saturday night the Bison hosted the Wildcats from Chisago Lakes in a Mississippi-8 showdown.
The Bison played 33:59 minutes of uninspired hockey and spotted the Wildcats a 2-0 lead after two periods. But the final 00:00:2 of the period fired up the Bison line-up and the intensity jumped up a notch for the third period.
All ready on the penalty kill, the Bison were penalized for the seldom called delay of game along the back wall. A third penalty was against Bison coach Aaron Johnson for arguing the delay of game call, leaving the Bison two men short for over three minutes to begin the third period.
That’s when senior co-captain Wilson Anderle and goalie Mikey Otten set a new tone for the Bison. Killing the 5-on-3 with Reed Morehouse, Jake Ramsey and Hunter Thompson, Anderle displayed the sacrifice and will it takes to win tight hockey games while Otten steadied the killers with his poised goaltending. Anderle blocked several shots to motivate his teammates.
But it was Otten’s highlight reel save that brought the bench to attention. Otten slid post-to-post to rob the Wildcats’ Zac Lambrecht with an enormous glove save. “If they score there, the game is likely over,” said Coach Aaron Johnson, “that is one of the best high school saves you will see. [It was] just awesome.”
Two After the successful penalty-kill, it was all Bison the rest of the period. Leading scorer Gunnar Goodmanson deposited a rebound past Jake Dubose as the momentum kept growing. The assists went to Loren Lindvall and Jerame Schuetzle.
Schuetzle continued the scoring on a beautiful give-and-go with line-mate Ramsey to tie the game 2-2. Schuetzle’s shot from the left circle hit the right post, hit goalie Dubose’s back, and rolled across the goal-line.
The game made it to overtime but didn’t last long. Just 13 seconds into the extra session, it was Goodmanson striking again to finish the comeback. Goodmanson tipped a beautiful pass from Schuetzle on a 2-on-2 break.
“It was one of those plays were all five skaters on the ice made the right read, the right pass, and the finish was perfect,” said Johnson, “all five guys touched the puck there. It was really exciting.”
Otten made 25 saves and earned his ninth win. Game pucks went to Otten, Schuetzle, and Goodmanson.
Next up for the Bison is St. Francis at Buffalo Civic Center Tuesday night.
Photos courtesy of Rob LaPlante @laplante71
The Bison converge after the OT winner is scored