A round trip from Buffalo to Roseau nears 640 miles.
Throw in a Ram boys’ hockey tradition of seven state titles and 34 state appearances, and a first-round playoff matchup at Roseau may have appeared like a daunting task.
The Bison boys’ hockey team was not intimidated.
Trailing 5-3, the No. 3 seeded Rams staged a furious rally to score twice in the final six minutes of regulation. Roseau leading scorer Bryden Stoskopf capped off his big night with his third goal 3:33 into the second overtime for the winner.
“We felt good about the six seed and felt we had a pretty good shot facing either Roseau, Bemidji or Brainerd as the three seed,” said Bison head coach Aaron Johnson. “With school out, we went up Monday, so travel shouldn’t have been a factor.”
The opening period appeared like it was. Roseau took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission and held the Bison to zero shots on goal.
Things changed drastically in period two, starting with sophomore Ben Klein scoring 1:41 in.
Momentum really swayed in favor of the road team at the 13:44 mark when Alec Severson was given a 5-minute boarding major for his hit on Bison senior Blake Habisch.
Seniors Cade Stensby, Luke Ramsey, and Jon Pearson all scored over a one-minute span to stun the home crowd as the Bison took a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
Stoskopf first of his three goals came early in period three, but Buffalo answered on a fluke goal from center ice at 9:08 by sophomore Joe McNamara. Stoskopf scored a shorthanded goal at11:11 to make it 5-4. Brandon Lund’s second of the game came with 1:10 left in regulation and Roseau’s goalie pulled for the extra man.
With a dozen seniors on this year’s varsity roster, all 12 have made some sort of impact, particularly in a 5-1 home win last Saturday over Hopkins on Senior Night.
Seniors figured in the scoring in four of Buffalo’s five goals.
Trailing 1-0, Ramsey and senior Stone Goodmanson assisted on a first-period goal by junior defenseman Ben Lindvall.
The eventual game-winning goal scored at 7:09 of period two on a power-play was scored by Habisch, assisted by seniors Tom Rooney and Stensby.
Later in the period, seniors Mateo Johnson and John McNamara assisted on the first of two goals on the night by Klein, who would later make it 4-1 at 14:20 of period three.
“Today was a great atmosphere with so many seniors playing their hearts out,” Klein said. “It created a fun environment.”
As one of the few non-seniors on this year’s roster, Klein says the upperclassmen have been great mentors.
“These seniors have been a great help to all of us underclassmen by supporting us and making us compete to play at their level,” Klein said. “The team will be very different next year without them, but they have set us up greatly for next year by pushing us.”
Fittingly, the fifth and final goal was scored by Goodmanson, assisted by Johnson and sophomore Joe McNamara.
“The senior class has a lot of good hockey players,” Johnson said. “When you have a lot of seniors, you tend to have a more mature group. We haven’t had too many off-ice issues. This has been a really easy group to coach.”
Coupled with Tuesday’s loss at Roseau, the Bison finished 14-12 overall.
Buffalo 5, Hopkins 1
(Saturday, Feb. 18 at Buffalo)
Royals 1 0 0 - 1
Bison 1 2 2 - 5
First period: H -- Henry Sweeney (unassisted) PP, 5:51; B -- Ben Lindvall (Stone Goodmanson, Luke Ramsey) 14:17.
Second period: B -- Blake Habisch (Tom Rooney, Cade Stensby) PP, 7:09; B -- Ben Klein (Mateo Johnson, John McNamara) 15:07.
Third period: B -- Klein (Treyton Welch, Lindvall) 14:20; B -- Goodmanson (Johnson, Joe McNamara) 15:15.
Goalies: H – Ethan Myers (loss) 39 shots, 34 saves; B – Nathan Mueller (win) 22 shots, 21 saves; Shots: H – 11-5-6 – 22; B – 13-14-12 – 39. Power Plays: H – 1-5; B – 1-2.
Section 8AA Quarterfinals
Roseau 6, Buffalo 5 (2-OT)
(Tuesday, Feb. 21 at Roseau)
#6 Bison0 4 1 0 0 - 5
#3 Rams2 0 3 0 1 - 6
First period: R -- Hanson O’Leary (John Tangen, Adam Hedlund) 14:08; R -- Brandon Lund (Trevor McMillin, Alec Severson).
Second period: B -- Ben Klein (Joe McNamara) 1:41; B -- Cade Stensby (Tom Rooney, Mateo Johnson) PP, 13:58; R -- Luke Ramsey (Nick Mueller, Tom Rooney) PP, 14:13; B -- Jon Pearson (unassisted) PP, 14:58.
Third period: R -- Bryden Stoskopf (Jonah Huglen, Alex Verbout) 0:38; B -- Joe McNamara (Rooney) 9:08; R -- Stoskopf (Nathan Adrian, Nick Geroy) SH, 11:11; R -- Lund (Stoskopf, Severson) 15:50.
First overtime: No scoring.
Second overtime: R -- Stoskopf (Geroy, Severson) 3:33.
Goalies: B – Nathan Mueller (loss) 41 shots, 35 saves; R – Willie Woolever 5 shots, 1 save; Izaak Olson (win) 19 shots, 18 saves; Shots: B – 0-6-10-7-1 – 24; R – 11-11-15-3-1 – 41. Power Plays: B – 3-4; R – 0-4.