by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
A brawl that left four players on each team suspended for one game dampened a big victory by the Rogers Royals over arch-rival Buffalo 2-1 on Thursday evening in Rogers.
After the Royals fought off Buffalo’s late siege on the net that produced their lone goal with 2:05 left with continued pressure until the final horn, fights started breaking out.
The mayhem lasted about a minute, with coaches and referees scurrying to separate the players and get them off the ice.
“I am disappointed when something like that happens, to the extent that it happened,” said Rogers coach Tim Marchand. “There was a big chop at the end by one of their players, who was frustrated, slashing one of our guys across the chest, and things started to unravel, and you hate to see that.”
He added: “It’s easy to tell kids to turn their backs, but it’s a lot harder when they are actually on the ice playing the game.”
The players drawing one-game suspensions for game misconduct for their parts in the brawl were Matt Weber, Cody Braiedy, Ben Witte and Zach Svoboda of Rogers, along with Cody Elletson, Hunter Stenberg, Max Willard and Reid Trousdale of Buffalo.
Weber, junior defenseman, also had two-minute penalties previously for cross-checking, slashing, and hooking.
The Royals and Bison have waged an intense rivalry for several years. Neither Rogers (6-5-1) nor Buffalo (3-10-1) is as strong as usual this year, but one or the other of these teams has always won the Mississippi 8 title, and both remain contenders.
Rogers is 2-0 and alone in first after this win, and Buffalo is 3-2. Standing at 2-1 at Cambridge-Isantii and Monticello-Annandale-Maple Lake.
Neal Smith scored for Rogers in the first period, assisted by Zach Hnath and Bryan Jungels. Chad Miller made it 2-0 with a second-period goal assisted by Parker Veith and Matt Weber.
Rogers outshot Buffalo 22-19 in the first two periods but Buffalo came out swinging in the third period and outshot the Royals 10-2.
With the Bison goalie pulled, Aaron Rouse finally got one past Rogers goalie Robby Vukelich with 2:05 left in heavy congestion.
The Bison kept the puck in Rogers’ end for almost the entire final two minutes and Vukelich had to make three more saves but he and his cohorts held the lead.
“We had a well-rounded game,” said Marchand. “We had good goalkeeping, our defensive end coverage was good, and we kept them outside except in the third period when they outshot us. In the first two periods I think we established control of the game and put a couple pucks in their end.”
Marchant felt his team matched Buffalo’s physicality, and “the most important thing is, we got a W out of it.”
The teams will be shorthanded in their next outings, which will be Rogers at Princeton and Buffalo hosting Cambridge-Isanti, both on Saturday.