By Rob LaPlante
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The Buffalo boys’ hockey team is putting its own definition to the hockey phrase “twisted wrister.”
While often referred to as a highlight-reel goal via the wrist shot, the Bison have completed the hat trick this season with key players twisting their wrists. Senior Jake Ramsey is the latest casualty after injuring himself during the first period in the Bison’s 3-1 home loss on Saturday, Jan. 17 to Hopkins. Fortunately for Ramsey and his teammates, it’s only a mild wrist fracture and he’s expected to miss only 2-3 weeks.
Two previous wrist injuries sustained during two pre-season games to senior captain Gunnar Goodmanson and sophomore Blake Habisch forced the Bison to miss two of their most skilled players for nearly a month.
Just when it appeared the lineup was coming to normalcy, it quickly turned to abnormal when Ramsey crashed awkwardly into the end boards.
“I dumped the puck in and turned, and my wrist hit the boards,” Ramsey said. “With all the things happening this year, just our line (Goodmanson, Ramsey and senior Jerame Schuetzle) has played together around five games. It’s really frustrating.”
With nothing to show for a 16-shot, first-period performance, a dejected Bison squad skated to the locker room minus one of their top players and minus one on the scoreboard. Hopkins forward Noah Bragg broke the scoreless tie on an unassisted goal with 42 seconds left in the opening period.
Hopkins quickly made it 2-0 scoring 1:01 into period two on a goal by Jonah Shoemaker-Gagnon. They extended the lead to 3-0 eight minutes later on a goal by Matt Hines. The third goal warranted a time out call by Bison head coach Aaron Johnson who could sense his team feeling defeated, despite still having half the game remaining on the clock.
The Bison finally cracked the net 2:15 into period three when junior Gavin Welch scored with assists to Goodmanson and sophomore defenseman Nick Mueller.
Buffalo junior goalie Ben Zitur made 32 saves, which included a highlight glove save diving from post-to-post to keep Hopkins at bay. Not to be outdone, Royals goalie Josh Kuehmichel was up to the task the entire night stopping 26 of 27 shots.
“Give Hopkins credit, they are a very good team and having a great year,” Johnson said. “They have an outstanding goalie and we couldn’t beat him early when we put up 16 shots. I thought we had a 5-6 minute lapse in the second period where we let them get those couple goals. Besides that, I thought it was a really good hockey game.”
As for the injuries that continue to plague his skilled players, Johnson could only shake his head in disbelief.
“It’s starting to sound like a broken record,” Johnson said. “The good news is, it sounds like a best case scenario from what we thought it was. The nice thing is we only play one game this week on Saturday. It’s too early for a time frame, but at least we’ll get him back for the stretch run.”
BUFFALO 5, ROGERS 2
Prior to their home loss to the Hopkins Royals, the Bison completed a season sweep of the defending conference champion Rogers Royals with a 5-2 road win on Thursday, Jan. 15 at Rogers.
Buffalo’s victory paired with a 6-4 home win on Dec. 13 over Rogers improved the Bison’s conference mark to 5-0 heading into Saturday’s showdown at 7 p.m. at home against second-place St. Michael-Albertville.
In a rare game where the Bison’s top line was intact, Schuetzle’s two first-period goals gave the Bison a 2-0 advantage after 17 minutes. Shane Smith cut the lead in half for the Royals, but sophomore Tom Rooney’s goal at the 12:12 mark of period two would turn out to be the game winner. Ramsey and Goodmanson would score third period insurance goals. The top line accounted for eight total points and senior defenseman Reed Morehouse added three assists from the back end.
“Between the two teams, I think there were six guys missing from the first time we played Rogers,” said Johnson, describing the rare lack of intensity shown between two rival teams in the previous meeting. “This was a more intense game with higher level of play. We played really well and came out with a nice win.”
With seven days to prepare for their other rivals from STMA, the Bison know they will be without one of their leaders. But knowing his wrist injury isn’t as severe as the injuries Goodmanson and Habisch once suffered, Ramsey is optimistic about the team still finishing strong.
“Our team is pretty skilled, even without me here,” Ramsey said. “I’m pretty confident we’ll finish strong and we can get that section win.”
Buffalo 5, Rogers 2
(Thursday, Jan. 15 at Rogers)
Bison 2 1 2 - 5
Royals0 2 0 - 2
First period: B – Jerame Schuetzle (Gunnar Goodmanson) 2:55; B – Schuetzle (Jake Ramsey, Reed Morehouse) 12:35.
Second period: R – Shane Smith (Jason Roberge, Dustin Schoepke) 1:57; B – Tom Rooney (James McNamara, Nick Hanson) 12:12; R – Travis Limoseth (unassisted) 12:28.
Third period: B – Ramsey (Goodmanson, Morehouse) :20; B – Goodmanson (Schuetzle, Morehouse) 11:18.
Goalies: B – Ben Zitur (win) 27 shots, 25 saves; R – Jackson Nelson (loss) 27 shots, 22 saves. Shots: B – 12-5-10 – 27; R – 5-14-8 – 27. Power Plays: B – 0-3; R – 0-3.
Hopkins 3, Buffalo 1
(Saturday, Jan. 17 at Buffalo)
Royals1 2 0 - 3
Bison 0 0 1 - 1
First period: H – Noah Bragg (unassisted) 16:18.
Second period: H – Jonah Shoemaker-Gagnon (Riley Martin) 1:01; H – Matt Hines (Martin) 9:24.
Third period: B – Gavin Welch (Gunnar Goodmanson, Nick Mueller) 2:15.
Goalies: H – Josh Kuehmichel (win) 27 shots, 26 saves; B – Ben Zitur (loss) 35 shots, 32 saves. Shots: H – 9-13-13 – 35; B – 16-4-7 – 27; Power Plays: H – 0-2; B – 0-5.