Chisago Lakes goalie a save through heavy traffic as Bison Kevin Kemp and Brady Hartman go fishing for a rebound. (Photo by Rob LaPlante)
The see-saw season for the Buffalo boys’ hockey team continued with a convincing road win and a disappointing home loss.
A 4-2 home defeat Saturday, Jan. 9 against Chisago Lakes dropped the Bison to 5-7-2 overall and 3-2-1 in conference play.
The loss came on the heels of an impressive 11-2 road win Thursday, Jan. 7 at Cambridge-Isanti.
“Cambridge-Isanti beat Chisago Lakes 3-2 this year. So that tells you a little bit about where we are from Thursday to Saturday,” said Bison head coach Aaron Johnson, who was noticeably disappointed following the home loss.
Chisago Lakes took a 1-0 lead a minute into the contest on a two-on-one when Andrue Trelstad fired a wrist shot that snuck inside the near post past Bison senior goalie Ben Zitur. Buffalo trailed 1-0 after one period and trailed 8-6 in shots.
“I hope there are a lot of disappointed kids in that locker room,” Johnson said. “Our effort to start wasn’t near good enough. We let Chisago Lakes come into our building and set the tone in that first period. Nothing against Chisago Lakes – they play hard, but I don’t think they are as talented as us.
“We let them come in here and set the tone of what the game was going to be like. They had a lot of confidence after that first period that they took it to us. They believed they could win and they played like it for two periods after that,” Johnson concluded. An inspired Bison squad showed the tenacity they did two days prior when they scored 11 goals at Cambridge-Isanti.
Buffalo’s top line of senior Kevin Kemp, senior Brady Hartman, and junior Cade Stensby – who combined for 16 total points, including hat tricks from Kemp and Hartman at Isanti, were flying in period two. Buffalo outshot the Wildcats 17-2 in period two, but Chisago Lakes goalkeeper Bryce Thompson made several key saves to keep the lead 1-0. The Wildcats scored on their first shot of the period on a breakaway goal by Landon Lushanko with 17.7 seconds left.
“There is no doubt that goal hurt,” Johnson said. “We raised our play in the second period a little bit, but it’s not good enough. Lushanko was the best player on the ice and his goal was a no doubter. Ben didn’t react on it until the puck was past him.”
Senior Gavin Welch cut Chisago Lakes’ lead to 2-1 at 1:21 of period three. Welch tapped in a shot that junior Blake Habisch went hard to the net at. But a penalty to Welch on the next play resulted in a Chisago Lakes power-play goal less than a minute later.
Junior Tom Rooney made it 3-2 scoring at 10:34, but the Wildcats iced the win on a late goal by Tyler Stilp with 2:19 left in regulation. Thompson made 37 saves on 39 shots to lead the Wildcats to their second conference win (2-2-0).
“They got strong goaltending, they blocked shots, and they did what it took to win hockey games,” Johnson said. “We did that in spurts again. We didn’t do it consistently. Right now, disappointed and surprised is all the coaching staff can come up with. We let them come in here and take points from us against a team that shouldn’t happen to.”
Buffalo’s loss dropped them to 3-2-1 in the conference, two wins and three points behind first-place Rogers 5-1-0. St. Michael-Albertville (4-1-1) and Princeton (4-2-0) are second and third in the standings.
The Bison will look to get back to their winning ways when they host last-place North Branch (0-5-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 at the Civic Center. The Bison are hopeful to regain that offensive form that saw them score eight goals in one period at Cambridge-Isanti.
Hartman led the way with three goals and three assists against the Vikings. Kemp had three goals and two assists. Stensby finished with one goal and four assists, and Habisch had two goals and one assist.
“We had guys that played hard and played the right way at Isanti,” Johnson said. “Saturday, we had guys that showed up that didn’t want to do that.”
Buffalo 11, Cambridge-Isanti 2
(Thursday, Jan. 7 at Isanti)
Bison 8 0 3 - 11
Bluejackets 2 0 0 - 2
First period: B -- Luke Ramsey, 5:05; B -- Brady Hartman (Cade Stensby, Kevin Kemp) 5:18; B -- Hartman (Stensby, Connor Kuhlmann) PP, 11:07; B -- Kemp (Hartman) 11:23; B -- Blake Habisch (Gavin Welch, Nick Mueller) 11:43; B -- Kemp (Hartman, Stensby) 13:39; B -- Habisch, SH, 14:25; CI -- Cullen Osen (Mitchell Ziebarth, Josh Bustrom) PP, 14:46; CI -- Jared Konen (Alex Cummings) 16:09; B -- Kemp (Hartman, Stensby) 16:24.
Second period: No scoring.
Third period: B -- Stensby (Mueller, Jon Pearson) 0:45; B -- Welch (Habisch, Kuhlmann) 6:55; B -- Hartman (Kemp, Mueller) 14:35.
Goalies: B – Taylor Strenge (win) 13 shots, 11 saves; CI – Nate Muehlberg (loss) 47 shots, 36 saves. Shots: B -- 19-13-15 – 47; CI -- 5-5-3 – 13. Power Plays: B – 1-2; CI – 1-1.
Chisago Lakes 4, Buffalo 2
(Saturday, Jan. 9 at Buffalo)
Wildcats 0 0 2 - 4
Bison 1 1 2 - 2
First period: CL -- Andrue Trelstad (Cooper Hoheisel) 1:00.
Second period: CL -- Landon Lushanko (Cristian Haskins) 16:43.
Third period: B -- Gavin Welch (Blake Habisch)1:21; CL -- Haskins (Tyler Stilp, Lushanko) PP, 2:07; B -- Tom Rooney (Nick Hanson, Welch) 10:34; CL -- Stilp (Lushanko) 14:41.
Goalies: CL – Bryce Thompson (win) 39 shots, 37 saves; B – Ben Zitur (loss) 17 shots, 13 saves. Shots: CL -- 8-2-7 – 17; B -- 6-17-16 – 39. Power Plays: CL – 1-2; B – 0-2.
Chisago Lakes 4, Buffalo 2
Landon Lushanko had a goal and two assists to lead the Wildcat boys’ hockey team to its biggest win so far this season, a 4-2 Triumph over the Buffalo Bison Saturday, January 9 at the Buffalo Civic Center. The Bison outshot the Wildcats 36-17 for the game. Wildcat goaltender Bryce Thompson came up big, stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead on Andrue Trelstad’s goal one minute into the first period, assisted by Cooper Hoheisel. A turning point in the game came when Lushanko scored with just 17 seconds left in the second period to put the Wildcats up 2-0 and give them a little breathing room. Cristian Haskins picked up the lone assist on Lushanko’s goal.
Buffalo scored at 1:21 of the third period to cut the Wildcat lead to 2-1. But the Bison took a penalty 25 seconds later and the Wildcats made them pay. Lushanko put one in the back of the net just 21 seconds into the power play, assisted by Cristian Haskins, and just like that the Wildcats were back up by two. The pesky Bison refused to go away, scoring at the 10:34 mark to once again pull within a goal. But Tyler Stilp came up big for the Wildcats, scoring with just under two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the game to push the lead back to two and allow the Wildcats to ride out the last couple of minutes of the game in relative comfort. Lushanko got his second assist, and third point of the game, on Stilp’s goal.
Wildcat head coach Paul Gibson said “We knew going into this game that it would be won or lost in the defensive zone. Neither team averaged more than three goals per game, so defensive zone coverage was critical. Of course, continuing to get solid goaltending doesn't hurt either. More than anything else, we are improving on our team play, moving the puck and honoring our assignments, and being accountable to each other. Moving Landon Lushanko to defense this year has strengthened our defensive core, and provided opportunities up front for some of our upperclassmen to step up. It was certainly a confidence booster moving forward.”