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Muellers’ Day On

By By Rob LaPlante - Sports Editor - Wright County Journal, 12/28/16, 7:15PM CST


Nathan’s 29 saves, Nick’s goal, leads Buffalo past STMA Buffalo knocks off arch rivals

For the first time in nearly three years, the Buffalo boys’ hockey team defeated St. Michael-Albertville.

A 3-0 road win last Saturday, Dec. 17 at STMA Arena ended a 4-game winless streak (0-3-1) to the Knights.

“It’s been too long since we beat St. Michael, so it’s good to be on the other side after a couple seasons of not having a win against them,” said head coach Aaron Johnson.

Buffalo’s last win over the Knights prior to Saturday was an 8-4 road victory Jan. 25, 2014. None of today’s current varsity players were on that team.

“It’s kind of fun playing the teams right away in the conference that we want to beat,” said senior Connor Kuhlmann.

It was Kuhlmann’s unassisted goal at 6:22 of period one that proved to be the eventual game winner.

STMA senior goalie Kyle Hayden had never lost to Buffalo coming in, but a rare misplay of the puck at the side of the net allowed Kuhlmann to slip a shot into an open net.

Bison sophomore goalie Nathan Mueller stops one of two breakaways he faced in a 3-0 shutout win last Saturday at STMA. This attempt was by STMA’s Carson Wooters. (Photos by Rob LaPlante)

“(Hayden) went to play the puck and really didn’t know what to do when I pressured him,” Kuhlmann said. “I just messed it up for him. He wasn’t on his game today.”

The Bison were outshot 13-2 after one period, but Kuhlmann’s goal was the only one to find the net.

“It’s kind of the start we expected,” Johnson said. “With the cancelations of things the day before, we didn’t get a chance to practice the day before. But, it was a pretty good road period.”

Knowing his team potentially dodged a bullet in period one, the Bison turned the tables the final two periods and took a 2-0 lead 28 seconds into the second on a shot from the right faceoff circle by senior defenseman Nick Mueller that eluded Hayden’s far pad.

Buffalo outshot the Knights 11-4 in the middle period.

The two goals were more than enough for Bison sophomore goalie Nathan Mueller, who stopped all 29 shots fired his way to record his second shutout of the season and his career. He posted a 15-save shutout in a 5-0 season-opening win last Nov. 29 at Osseo.

As a fellow goalie, Mueller could tell STMA was rattled a bit following a pair of soft goals allowed by STMA’s goalkeeper – particularly Kuhlmann’s opening tally.

Tom Rooney fights through a Knight checker. Senior captain Rooney finished with an assist and a +2 against STMA.

Senior captain Cade Stensby looks to finish his check.

Nathan Mueller covers the post and denies the Knight attacker.

Luke Ramsey celebrates his his empty net goal to close out the 3-0 victory.

“It really killed a lot of their momentum,” Nathan said. “That really pushed us forward, and they didn’t come as hard as they did the first couple minutes.”

He couldn’t help but feel good for his older brother, Nick, after he snuck one past Hayden for a 2-0 lead. It was Nick’s first goal of the season.

“He doesn’t score a lot, so I’m happy for him,” Nathan said.

STMA’s best chance came midway into period three when Ryan Copeland beat Mueller on a breakaway, but his backhand shot clanked off the pipe.

It was the second breakaway attempt Mueller foiled for STMA, earlier stopping Carson Wooters in the second period.

Buffalo, held without a power-play attempt the entire game, would kill off two key penalties in the final 17 minutes.

Coming off an 8-2 home defeat to No. 1 ranked Delano in their previous outing, Johnson liked his team’s response.

“This is the effort we’ve been building towards,” Johnson said. “We played hard for 51 minutes. But the thing we saw as a coaching staff is we played smart for 51 minutes. We did a lot of good things in all facets of the game.”

“Coach told us before the game that this was our Super Bowl,” Nathan Mueller said. “We had to win this game and move forward from it.”

“We put ourselves behind the 8-ball with our loss earlier to Monticello,” Johnson said. “But we know we still have an opportunity to get back in the thick of things by playing well against Rogers and STMA. It’s early in the year, so we don’t worry about standings as much as we do about taking care of the little things.”



Buffalo 3, St. Michael-Albertville 0

(Saturday, Dec. 17 at Albertville)

Bison    1  1  1  -    3

Knights 0  0  0  -    0

First period: B -- Connor Kuhlmann (unassisted) 6:22.

Second period: B -- Nick Mueller (Tom Rooney, Blake Habisch) 0:28.

Third period: B -- Luke Ramsey (unassisted) EN, 16:13.

Goalies: B – Nathan Mueller  (win) 29 shots, 29 saves; STMA – Kyle Hayden (loss) 20 shots, 18 saves. Shots: B – 2-11-7– 20; STMA – 13-4-12 – 29. Power Plays: B – 0-0; STMA – 0-2.


Buffalo, Rogers

(Tuesday, Dec. 20 at Buffalo)

Royals  1  1  1  -    2

Bison    4  0  1  -    5

First period: B -- Connor Kuhlmann (unassisted) 6:22.

Second period: B -- Nick Mueller (Tom Rooney, Blake Habisch) 0:28.

Third period: B -- Luke Ramsey (unassisted) EN, 16:13.

Goalies: R – Nathan Mueller  (win) 29 shots, 29 saves; B – Nathan Mueller (loss) 20 shots, 18 saves. Shots: R – 2-11-7– 20; B – 13-4-12 – 29. Power Plays: R – 0-0; B – 0-2.