By Rob LaPlante
The first seven games for the Buffalo boys’ hockey team have been anything but normal.
A four-goal second period on Saturday, Dec. 13 against conference rival Rogers sparked a 6-4 victory, and prevented the Bison from losing all three games on their first home-stand of the season.
After sitting the first four games with a broken wrist, senior captain Gunnar Goodmanson returned to the lineup in Buffalo’s 5-3 loss against Delano. Playing at less than 100-percent, Goodmanson registered three points in his first two games. He scored his second goal of the season just 45 seconds into the game giving Buffalo an early 1-0 advantage against Rogers. A late goal with 40 seconds by Jake Moss of the Royals tied the score 1-1 after one period.
From the opening faceoff, Buffalo head coach Aaron Johnson played the first period minus senior forwards Jake Ramsey and Jerame Schuetzle, junior defenseman Michael Sawdey and sophomore forward Blake Habisch. Besides missing four of his top players, Johnson said there was something else missing in the game.
“If anybody has been to a Buffalo and Rogers game before, this game had a different feeling to it,” Johnson said. “Both teams are young this year, so the intensity wasn’t the same as it normally is. Hopefully next time we play them, that gets amped up a little bit.”
After sitting the first 17 minutes based on a coach’s decision, Ramsey scored just 47 seconds into the second period when Goodmanson won a faceoff and centered a pass that Ramsey buried for his team-leading fifth goal of the year. The lead was short-lived, as the Royals tied the score 2-2 less than a minute later on the first of two goals by Trent Fredrickson.
Buffalo took the lead for good when Goodmanson beat his defender wide and skated down the left wing boards and wristed a shot through the legs of Rogers’ goalie Jackson Nelson. Goodmanson registered his fourth point of the night two minutes later on Tom Rooney’s first career varsity goal. Senior James McNamara made it 5-2 with 3:50 left in the period scoring off a rebound that junior Kevin Kemp originally fired.
Goodmanson nearly had his third goal of the night, but was stoned in close by Nelson in the final minute of the period. Goodmanson seems to save his best games for the Royals as he scored a hat trick the last meeting between these two teams in a 5-3 road loss Jan. 11, 2014.
“I don’t know, maybe a little extra something comes out when we play Rogers,” Goodmanson said. “There obviously a big rival, but I hope to get up against every single team.”
Coming off a 26 goal, 51 point junior season, Goodmanson has taken over the team scoring lead with seven points in three games. He said his wrist is still a factor, but it’s an injury he’s learning to deal with.
“I have quite a bit of pain. It’s a little tough, but I play through it,” Goodmanson said. “I just put 4-roll tape on it. It’s getting better.”
The Royals made the game interesting, scoring twice in the third period to pull within one goal at 5-4. But with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker, Ramsey iced it away scoring an empty netter with 42 seconds left.
The game was nearly a reverse rendition of Buffalo’s 5-2 home loss earlier in the week on Thursday, Dec. 11 against Holy Angels. The Bison led in the game 1-0 and 2-1 on goals by McNamara and Ramsey. The Stars struck for three straight second-period goals and put the game out of reach with their fourth unanswered goal early in period three to prolong the Bison’s losing streak to three straight games.
“We haven’t been playing great hockey,” Johnson said. “We gave up a lot of chances and good teams like we’ve been playing will capitalize. We were putting ourselves in bad positions defensively by puck watching. We have to get better.”
Johnson is optimistic that his team will find that consistency when they return to action at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18 against St. Francis.
“It’s a young team, and we’re still missing key parts of it,” Johnson said. “We think we’re going to have our full lineup on Thursday for the first game all year, and that’s game number eight. It’s been an unusual start, but we got through this tough stretch with a 3-4 record and we’re excited to have our pieces to the puzzle back in there.”
Holy Angels 5, Buffalo 2
(Thursday, Dec. 11 at Buffalo)
Stars 1 3 1 - 5
Bison 1 1 0 - 2
First period: B - James McNamara (unassisted), 0:45; HA - Scott McNamara (Owen Larson, Matthew Reser), 12:37.
Second period: B - Jake Ramsey (Gunnar Goodmanson), 0:25; HA - S. McNamara (David Hillen), 2:15; HA - Teagan Thostenson (Marshall Barnes, Owen Osborn), 8:15; HA - Patrick Gazich (Osborn, Cooper Sande), 16:22.
Third period: HA - Barnes (Sande, Larson), 1:53.
Goalies: HA - Sean Daley (win) 27 shots, 25 saves; B - Ben Zitur (loss) 36 shots, 31 saves; Shots: HA - 10-15-11 - 36; B - 6-9-12 - 27; Power Plays: HA - 0-3; B - 0-5.
Buffalo 6, Rogers 4
(Saturday, Dec. 13 at Buffalo)
Stars 1 1 2 - 4
Bison 1 4 1 - 6
First period: B - Gunnar Goodmanson (unassisted), 0:45; R - Jake Moss (Branden Cecil, Shane Smith), 16:20.
Second period: B - Jake Ramsey (Gunnar Goodmanson), 0:47; R - Trent Fredrickson (Sam Libke, Vinny Billing), 1:20; B - Goodmanson (Reed Morehouse), 7:10; B - Tom Rooney (Goodmanson, Luke Merz), 9:40; James McNamara (Kevin Kemp, Nick Mueller), 13:50.
Third period: R - Fredrickson (Jason Roberge), 8:07, PP; R - Smith (Moss, Cecil), 13:39; B - Ramsey (unassisted), 16:18.
Goalies: R - Jackson Nelson (loss) 27 shots, 22 saves; B - Ben Zitur (win) 27 shots, 23 saves; Shots: R - 6-9-12 - 27; B - 8-12-8 - 28; Power Plays: R - 1-1; B - 0-2.