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Effort falls short on Hockey Day

By Rob Laplante - Sports Editor - Wright County Journal, 01/27/17, 1:30PM CST


Link to the Wright County Journal Press

By Rob LaPlante

Sports Editor

Hockey Day Minnesota wasn’t much cause for celebration for the Buffalo boys’ hockey team.

For only the second time this year, the Bison (10-8 overall) were held off the scoresheet in a 2-0 road loss last Saturday, Jan. 21 against Chanhassen.

The loss put an end to the Bison’s 4-game winning streak, and dropped Buffalo’s record to 4-7 against non-conference opponents.

“It’s a disappointing effort tonight – no doubt about it,” said Bison head coach Aaron Johnson. “We definitely wanted to win out in January.”

More so than the effort on the rink, Bison coaches were disturbed by the efforts taken off it. The game was played minus four of its varsity regulars, out with suspensions or illness.

Chanhassen goalie Zach Swisher makes one
of his 24 saves as Buffalo forward Treyton Welch
hunts for a rebound. (All photos by Rob LaPlante)

“It’s very disappointing that we put ourselves in that situation,” Johnson said. “Not having our full lineup hurts everything. Our junior varsity team was put in a tough position from having to move guys up from there. It’s a trickle-down effect. You make poor choices, it affects a lot of people that probably deserve better from the poor choices they made.”

With new line combinations and some junior varsity guys inserted into the lineup, the Bison came out sluggish.

Jack Haley scored 1:23 into the first period giving the Storm a 1-0 lead.

“The first period was a little rough,” said Bison senior defenseman Jon Pearson. “But as the game went on, I felt some of the guys handled it well.”

Buffalo’s play did get stronger, but the offense could never get the equalizer. Haley would add an insurance goal 1:17 into period three giving the Storm the 2-0 lead.

Zach Swisher made 24 saves, earning the shutout for the Storm, who were outshot in the contest 24-17. Sophomore Nathan Mueller made 15 saves and suffered the loss.

The rink at Victoria Fieldhouse, home of Chanhassen hockey, was nearly full with fans celebrating Hockey Day Minnesota.

“We’ve done pretty well on Hockey Day in the past,” Johnson said. “These guys are playing hockey in the state of Minnesota. They should be excited about that opportunity. They only get 25 times to play. Hockey Day Minnesota is an exciting day to celebrate our game. Hopefully they realize that.”

“I guess you could say it’s a state-wide holiday,” Pearson said. “It’s a bummer that we lost a game on it, but it feels good to be able to play.”

Johnson expects a full lineup when Buffalo next competes Thursday, Jan. 26 at home against Princeton. Game time is 7 p.m.

Sophomore Ryan Nelson was plugged into the lineup versus Chanhassen. Nelson made a strong case for additional playing time.

Chanhassen 2, Buffalo 0

(Saturday, Jan. 21 at Victoria)

Bison                0  0  0   -   0

Storm               1  0  1   -   2

First period: C -- Jack Haley (Luke Becker, Adam Galler) 1:23.

Second period: No scoring.

Third period: C - Haley (Becker, Galler) 1:17.

Goalies: B – Nathan Mueller (loss) 17 shots, 15 saves; C – Zach Swisher (win) 24 shots, 24 saves; Shots: B – 4-11-9 – 24; C – 4-7-6 – 17. Power Plays: B – 0-3; C – 0-1.

Senior Nick Mueller leads the breakout against the Storm on Hockey Day Minnesota.