Buffalo’s Jerame Schuetzle, left, comes from behind the net with a shot to the chest of Lumberjacks goalie Gabe Heifort in the second period Tuesday night. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer
Bemidji celebrates after tying the game
The Buffalo Bison season ended Tuesday night when the Bemidji Lumberjack’s Noah Burns scored ten minutes into the second overtime, giving Bemidji a 3-2 victory. In the most thrilling game of the season, the Bison came up one goal short of moving on to the section semifinals.
The game was exceptionally tight from the drop of the puck. The teams played to a 0-0 draw after two periods and the shots were nearly even, 15-14 in the Bison’s favor.
The third period saw the game open up as Bemidji’s Erik Fitzgerald fired a shot through traffic that surprised Buffalo goalie Mikey Otten. Otten finished with 33 saves in the game.
Buffalo responded 70 seconds later. Senior winger Hunter Thompson hammered at a loose puck in a net-front scrum. Thompson pushed the puck, and goalie Gabe Heifort, into the net to tie the game.
Buffalo took their first lead of the game a minute later when Jerame Schuetzle found leading scorer Gunnar Goodmanson alone on the right circle. Goodmanson fired a wrist shot that beat Heifort.
Buffalo had several chances to ice the game, including a Goodmanson breakaway, but couldn’t find the all important third goal.
Then with five minutes remaining in the third, Burns beat Otten to the far post and scored a wraparound goal to knot the game at two. The final regulation minutes ticked to zero without a goal and the teams headed to an eight-minute first overtime.
Despite some tense moments and great scoring chances, the first overtime went scoreless. Then the tension of the game ramped up another level when the teams returned to the ice for the second overtime.
The best chance for the Bison to win came from senior captain Wilson Anderle midway through the second overtime. Anderle found himself alone in front of the Lumberjack’s net, received a pass out of the right corner and his shot just missed ending the game there.
But in the end, it was Burn’s second wraparound goal of the game that thwarted the Bison’s plans to move along in the section tournament.
Coach Aaron Johnson talked with pride about his team’s effort. “They left it all on the ice. We played incredibly hard and gave ourselves a great chance to win. In the end, they made one more play but I’m so proud of the effort.”
Bemidji’s head coach Wade Chiodo echoed Johnson’s thoughts, “those were two even teams that battled to the end. We just got the bounce.”
The entire Buffalo coaching staff was disappointed by the result but full of pride after the game. Assistant coach Thomas Johnson expressed the staff’s point of view, “the guys laid it on the line and helped this program move forward. The seniors, especially the captains and leaders, set a high standard that future teams can look to. It has been a very positive year and that’s a direct result of the guys in the locker-room.”