Buffalo faces top teams, top talent at holiday tournament By Rob LaPlante- Sports Editor
Bison sophomore Tom Rooney (top) makes a move toward the goal with Lakeville South junior defenseman Jared Saufferer close behind. (Photos by Rob LaPlante)
Outside of the state tournament, the Schwan Cup in Blaine has often been considered the cream of the crop for top-notch high school hockey
Buffalo head coach Aaron Johnson said exposure was one of the main reasons he elected to join this year’s Schwan Cup Silver Division 8-team tournament, opposed to sending his squad to their usual destination over holiday break in Duluth.
“The competitiveness was the big reason,” Johnson said. “The second part of that is we wanted to give some exposure to some of our top kids. Guys like (seniors) Gunnar Goodmanson and Jerame Schuetzle had a chance to play in front of a ton of scouts. That’s big for our program. We didn’t get that up in Duluth, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for those guys, including some of our young kids too.”
Goodmanson, Schuetzle and senior Jake Ramsey put on a show in Buffalo’s 6-2 Schwan Cup debut victory on Monday, Dec. 29 over Stillwater.
Schuetzle had a goal and four assists, and Goodmanson and Ramsey each had two goals and one assist in defeat of the Ponies, who last year qualified for the Class AA state tournament at Xcel Energy Center.
Buffalo followed that performance with 47 minutes and 53 seconds of stellar hockey against another 2013-14 Class AA state qualifying team. Goals by Goodmanson and two by Schuetzle gave the Bison a 3-2 lead over Centennial. But the Cougars scored twice in the final two minutes to steal a 4-3 victory from the Bison on Tuesday, Dec. 30 at the Super Rink.
“Both goals we defended pretty well, but they threw pucks towards the net and they got deflected in,” Johnson said. “It was a little skill on their end and a little bad luck on ours. The way we played on Monday and Tuesday against two state tournament teams is the way we need to play every single night.”
Fresh off a heartbreaking loss that knocked the Bison out of the championship game, Buffalo headed into its third game in as many nights minus one of its captains and the end result was an embarrassing 8-0 loss to No. 20 rated Lakeville South.
The Bison allowed five second-period goals to trail 7-0 into the final stanza. For the first time since suffering a 10-2 loss on Feb. 20, 2013 in the Section 8AA quarterfinal playoff game at Roseau, Buffalo played the third period under the MSHSL mercy rule of running time when a team is trailing the third period by seven or more goals.
“We obviously were not ready for this game,” said Buffalo senior captain Reed Morehouse. “This is a big wakeup call for a lot of the guys on the team, including myself. It’s embarrassing as a whole to come out and lay an egg like that.”
Morehouse registered two assists in the Stillwater win. He is one of four core senior leaders who have played in every game to date. Injuries, suspensions and personal leave of absence have been a big reason he said for a subpar start.
“Our coaches always say, leadership starts with the coaches than it goes down to the captains than the seniors, juniors and down from there,” Morehouse said. “The seniors, including the captains and myself probably haven’t been doing our job in investing our time to this program. We have guys out with suspensions, vacations and guys not ready to work every time we step on the ice. It’s up to us to set the bar for the rest of the team.”
Buffalo’s 8-0 loss still didn’t overshadow 5? periods of good hockey which led to a fourth-place finish. Johnson said the tournament as a whole is something the team can build off of for the second half of the season.
“We played three great teams,” Johnson said. “As disappointing as the Lakeville South loss was, you look at the week as a whole and we played some really good hockey against really good competition two out of three nights.”
Schwan Cup Silver Division
Buffalo 6, Stillwater 2
(Monday, Dec. 29 at Blaine)
Ponies1 1 0 - 2
Bison 3 1 2 - 6
First period: B - Gavin Welch (Luke Merz, Brady Hartman) 2:35; S - Luke Manning (Tyler Benson, Jackson Cates) 8:57, PP; B - Gunnar Goodmanson (Jake Ramsey, Jerame Schuetzle) 10:01; B - Ramsey (Kevin Kemp, Schuetzle) 13:54, PP.
Second period: B - Goodmanson (Schuetzle, Reed Morehouse) 3:39; S - Cates (Simon Sagissor, Jack Scanlan) 9:52.
Third period: B - Schuetzle (Morehouse) 13:47; B - Ramsey (Schuetzle, Goodmanson) 14:07.
Goalies: S - Josh Benson (loss) 7 shots, 4 saves; Seth Eisele 15 shots, 13 saves B - Ben Zitur (win) 36 shots, 34 saves; Shots: S - 15-11-10 - 36; B - 10-7-6 - 23; Power Plays: S - 1-5; B - 1-5.
Centennial 4, Buffalo 3
(Tuesday, Dec. 30 at Blaine)
Bison 1 1 1 - 3
Cougars 1 1 2 - 4
First period: C - Cody McLean (Connor Lovick, Justin Hubbell) 1:41; B - Gunnar Goodmanson (unassisted) 6:32, SH.
Second period: C - Chad Carney (Tyler Nyman, Ryan Meany) 5:46, PP; B - Jerame Schuetzle (Goodmanson) 6:39.
Third period: B - Schuetzle (Kevin Kemp, Tim Pearson) 1:18; C - Nyman (Colton Berg) 15:13; C - Stephen Heron (Nyman) 16.08.
Goalies: B - Ben Zitur (loss) 33 shots, 29 saves; C - Jonathan Albers (win) 22 shots, 19 saves; Shots: B - 7-7-8 - 22; C - 11-11-11 - 33; Power Plays: B - 0-5; C - 1-4.
Lakeville South 8, Buffalo 0
(Wednesday, Dec. 31 at Blaine)
Bison 0 0 0 - 0
Cougars 2 5 1 - 8
First period: LS - Nick Oelrich (Nick Swaney) 2:37, PP; LS - Joe Novak (Donavan Dempsey) 14:05.
Second period: LS - Dempsey (Nate Knopke) 2:50, SH; LS - Noah Rasinski (Jack Olsen) 3:53; LS - Swaney (Oelrich) 5:10; LS - Oelrich (Josh Ess) 15:20; LS - Austin Pletsch (Dempsey) 16:05, SH.
Third period: LS - Ess (Kyle Jamison) 12:47.
Goalies: B - Ben Zitur (loss) 32 shots, 25 saves; Justin Hanhnfeldt (13 shots, 12 saves); LS - Kyle McKinney (win) 18 shots, 18 saves; Shots: B - 6-6-6 - 18; LS - 15-17-13 - 45; Power Plays: B - 0-4; LS - 1-6.
Noah Vanderkoii puts a puck on net.
Kevin Kemp works the boards versus Lakeville South