The Buffalo boys’ hockey team will be happy to get a break from teams wearing the colors of orange and black.
After suffering a 4-3 season-opening loss Nov. 22 at Osseo, the Bison responded by registering back-to-back wins in a 4-0 win Nov. 29 at Brainerd and a 2-1 victory Thursday, Dec. 4 over the MAML Moose in Monticello.
Bison senior James McNamara and junior Kevin Kemp scored both goals in the win over MAML. Kemp has scored in three of the Bison’s first five games to start the season, including a goal just 25 seconds into their game with section rival Moorhead that gave Buffalo an early 1-0 advantage.
Kemp said his fast start has been a result of confidence, and increased playing time due to a number of key players out of the lineup.
“I’m definitely fortunate to be scoring every game,” Kemp said.
Buffalo was looking for its second section win against the Spuds. But shortly after Kemp’s early goal, the Spuds took the game over scoring five unanswered goals to secure a 5-2 victory.
The matchup was a difficult one Bison head coach Aaron Johnson said. Minus a few of his stars and the Spuds throwing out two potential Division-I defensemen in St. Cloud State recruit Will Borgen and his defense partner Alex Mehnert, who saw plenty of ice time as the two helped shutdown the Bison for most the contest.
“I think they were the difference,” Johnson said. “They are still a force to be reckoned with, but I would definitely like to play them again later in the year.”
The loss to the Spuds and Orioles dropped the Bison’s record against orange and black squads to 0-2, and it went to 0-3 after a 5-3 home loss on Tuesday, Dec. 9 in their season debut against Delano. Buffalo fell behind 3-0 on first-period goals by the Tigers’ Karl Peterson, Adam Eskola and Daniel Keranen. The game was a 5 p.m. start due to a home double-header featuring the Bison girls’ game at 7 p.m. with Champlin Park.
Johnson said the early start was no excuse for falling behind in an early 3-0 hole.
“It shouldn’t. It didn’t affect Delano and they had to travel,” Johnson said. “I thought the first period we just stood around and watched. We weren’t moving our feet.”
After a bit of a pep talk between periods, the Bison came out in period two and turned the tables on their Wright County neighbors. Senior captain Gunnar Goodmanson scored in his first game of the year after returning to the lineup from a broken wrist. Senior Jake Ramsey followed by scoring his first two goals of the season to tie the game 3-3. Sophomore Tom Rooney assisted on two of the three goals.
Johnson said there was no magical speech between periods.
“I just talked about resetting,” Johnson said. “I told them, move your feet and we did that and that got us back into the game.”
Both Goodmanson’s teammates and coaches were happy to see their leading scorer back in the lineup.
“Gunnar’s a great addition, and he scored a goal in his first game back,” Kemp said. “He’s a great player and a great captain.”
“It’s nice, but you could see he isn’t quite back to normal speed yet,” said Johnson, who had him on a wing playing on a line with Ramsey and Rooney. “He doesn’t quite have his legs. But you can see he’s still a difference maker. It’s nice to get that piece of the puzzle back and hopefully we can get another couple pieces back in a week or two.”
Senior Jerame Schuetzle was missing his third straight game due to a suspension, and sophomore Blake Habisch has yet to play with a broken right wrist.
After the two teams took turns dominating the first two periods, the final period resulted in scoring chances on both ends. Delano’s Keranen scored early in the third to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead. Moments later, Kemp nearly missed tying the game when he was stopped on a breakaway by Tiger goalie Tyler Rizzardi.
“James McNamara (senior) gave me a saucer pass and I was able to split the defense,” Kemp said. “I went backhand, forehand and I was going to lift the puck and go top right. The goalie just read it.”
Delano put the game out of reach when Meyers scored at the 10:58 mark to make it 5-3. The loss dropped the Bison to 2-3 overall heading into Thursday’s 7 p.m. home game with Holy Angels.
“We’re playing quality opponents right now, and we have to learn to play with these teams,” Johnson said. “I was really impressed with Delano. They have some good hockey skill.”
Buffalo 2, MAML 1
(Thursday, Dec. 4 at Monticello)
Bison 0 1 1 - 2
Moose0 0 1 - 1
Second period: B - James McNamara (Jake Ramsey), 2:25
Third period: B - Kevin Kemp (unassisted), 11:25, PP; MAML - Nick Johnson (Charlie Voller, McRae Haney), 16:45.
Goalies: B - Ben Zitur (win) 26 shots, 25 saves; MAML - Nathan Isaacson (loss) 26 shots, 24 saves
Shots: B - 6-10-10 - 26; MAML - 7-12-7 - 26
Power Play: B - 1-2; MAML - 0-1
Moorhead 5, Buffalo 2
(Saturday, Dec. 6 at Moorhead)
Bison 1 0 1 - 2
Spuds 1 2 2 - 5
First period: B - Kevin Kemp (Cade Stensby), 0:25; M - Jacob Odegard (Codee Brace, Eli Johnson), 8:56
Second period: M - Alex Erickson (Odegard, Jack Fahrendorf), 1:00; M - Odegard (Fahrendorf), 8:46
Third period: M - Trey Greene (Alex Mehnert, Jacob Dittmer), 0:57, SH; M - David Carey (Mehnert, Odegard), 13:03; B - Kemp (Luke Merz), 14:12
Goalies: B - Ben Zitur (loss) 44 shots, 39 saves; M - Jacob Dittmer (win) 14 shots, 12 saves
Shots: B - 7-3-4 - 14; M - 15-15-14 - 44
Power Play: B - 0-3; M - 0-2
Delano 5, Buffalo 3
(Tuesday, Dec. 9 at Buffalo)
Tigers 3 0 2 - 3
Bison 0 3 0 - 5
First period: D - Karl Peterson (Adam Eskola), 1:00; D - Eskola (Chad Oja), 3:26; D - Daniel Keranen (Ben Meyers, Will Hancuch), 14:47
Second period: B - Gunnar Goodmanson (Reed Morehouse), 3:30; B - Jake Ramsey (Tom Rooney), 10:11; B - Ramsey (Goodmanson, Rooney), 15:28
Third period: D - D. Keranen (Meyers), 4:54; D - Meyers (Eskola), 10:58
Goalies: D- Tyler Rizzardi (win) 28 shots, 25 saves; B - Ben Zitur (loss) 28 shots, 23 saves
Shots: D - 12-7-9 - 28; B - 9-7-12 - 28
Power Play: D - 0-0; B - 0-0
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