Buffalo senior goaltender Mikey Otten made several key saves to beat Chisago Lakes. Otten stopped 25 of 27 shots, including a highlight reel save while the Wildcats were on a 2-man, power-play advantage.
There were moments during Buffalo’s 3-2 overtime victory last Saturday over new conference rival Chisago Lakes where Bison boys’ hockey head coach Aaron Johnson was visibly frustrated.
Trailing 2-0 heading into the third period, Johnson was clearly upset with some of the decisions being made by the guys skating with the whistles in the striped sweaters.
“I’ll just add, I didn’t agree with a few of the calls there,” said Johnson, who saw his team get tagged for nine minor penalties, compared to Chisago Lakes’ three. “They (referees) put us in a tough spot, but I’m extremely proud of our guys, especially to start the third period. Our penalty killers did an awesome job.”
The Wildcats came into the contest relatively an unknown commodity. New to the Mississippi 8 this season, Chisago Lakes has already posted eight wins, and have two players, Brandon Gillespie (26 points) and Trevor Lushanko (21 points) that rank 1-2 in the conference in scoring.
Lushanko assisted on Chisago Lakes’ first goal of the game on a power play late in period one that gave the Wildcats a 1-0 first-period lead. An even strength goal by Blake Lizotte midway through period two extended the road team’s lead to 2-0. The second period would end with Buffalo being tagged for three minor penalties in the closing minute.
When the period expired, a bench minor for delay of game was called on Johnson for arguing calls. The third period started with four Bison players in the penalty box, and put Buffalo short 2-men for nearly two full minutes.
Buffalo penalty killers, particularly senior forward Wilson Anderle, stepped up to block a number of key shots on the 2-man disadvantage. Senior goalie Mikey Otten, made a highlight reel point-blank stop, helping kill off what could have been a third-period debacle.
Just a couple minutes after getting back to even strength, Buffalo junior Gunnar Goodmanson took a pass from senior defenseman Loren Lindvall, and wristed a shot past Wildcat goalie Jake Dubose.
Less than two minutes later, Bison junior Jake Ramsey fed junior Jerame Schuetzle and Schuetzle fired a slap shot that evened the score 2-2. Both players said the team fed off the momentum of killing off the string of penalties to start the third period.
“We were all jacked and pumped after killing them off with no goals allowed,” Ramsey said. “We didn’t get off to a good start, but once we got that first goal, we got it into gear and started going.”
Ramsey’s assist was his team-leading 14th of the season, and his 19 points were second only to Goodmanson’s 21.
“It’s real easy to get assists playing with Jerame and Gunnar,” Ramsey said. “They’re always in the right spots. I just pass it to them and they bury it.”
Schuetzle’s goal was his seventh of the season and 16th point. More importantly, it gave the Bison momentum, which eventually led to the overtime winner just 13 seconds into the extra stanza.
“Our defense made that play happen,” said Schuetzle, on describing the game-winning goal. “They broke the puck out to our wing and I gave it up to Gunnar, and he made a great pass right on my tape. He went hard to the net and all I had to do was put it on his stick.”
A jubilant locker room afterwards still had some of the Bison players echoing the same words of their head coach.
“The refs didn’t help us out at all,” Schuetzle said. “It’s hard to play a solid game when you’re always on a penalty kill. I think we recovered nicely, though.”
The victory improved Buffalo’s win streak to two games, thanks to a 6-1 win over Irondale on Jan. 2 at the Schwan’s Super Rink in Blaine.
As usual, it was Goodmanson’s line accounting for three of the six goals. Anderle opened the scoring with his sixth goal of the season, and his third goal in the past four games. Buffalo also got two goals in the game from sophomore defenseman Luke Merz. It was his first career varsity goals and first two points of the season. Assisting on both his goals were senior Jake Michalko, junior James McNamara, and sophomore Brady Hartman. Otten stopped 20-of-21 shots to record the win in goal.
“It was one of those games where we were the better team,” Johnson said. “Guys had some success. We played okay, not great, but went down there and found a way to win.”
Buffalo’s (9-4-1 overall) scheduled home game Tuesday night with St. Francis was postponed. The Bison put their undefeatead conference record (5-0) on the line Saturday, Jan. 11 when they travel to Rogers.
The Royals are led by the dynamic tandem on defense of senior Travis Brown and sophomore Matt Hellickson. Face-off is 7 p.m.