Brandon Bussi Muskegon Lumberjacks Star GoaltenderNovember 20, 2018
Muskegon Lumberjacks starting goaltender, Brandon Bussi, has quickly gained the notoriety of the USHL. The Lumberjacks are off to a record 13-2-0 start and much of that has to do with the incredible dynamic of the team. Skaters who were otherwise shadowed last season, are stepping up and the overall chemistry is unmistakable. For Bussi, his success as a goaltender isn’t solely because he has the necessary skill set, but because his teammates have been also working hard in front of him. Its because every member is doing their part, including him.
Brandon Bussi’s Off-Season Preparation
Every athlete knows that how you spend your off-season directly impacts your regular season performance. Most hockey players take a few weeks to spend with family and friends, but always make time for the gym or additional coaching. In Bussi’s case, he spent some time participating in the Stop It Goaltending program in Massachusetts.
The program gave Brandon the opportunity to train under Grand Rapids Griffins Goaltending Coach, Brian Mahoney-Wilson. Bussi told Access Hockey MI, “Getting to work with and learn from a goalie coach who works at such a high level is an honor as he helped fine tune my game” The experience carried over into his time in Muskegon and the fine-tuning Brandon had undergone differentiates him from the rest.
Putting Good Practice Into Practice
Brandon holds an “always improving” mentality. He’s always looking for ways to improve not only for himself but for his teammates. Implementing his growth and maturity into practices and games, Bussi is aiming to leave better than he came, “I’m going to continue to work hard in practice and try to get better throughout the year,” he said.
Bussi already has three shutouts this regular season to show that the effort he’s putting in is producing quality work. The quality of his work comes with the support of his teammates. Brandon told Access Hockey MI, that among his own personal improves, “…our defense is strong as of late are keys to the recent success.” Along with a strong defensive unit, fellow netminder Keegan Karki has Brandon’s back.
Crease Comrades: Brandon Bussi and Keegan Karki
Karki, a capable goalie, was sidelined for most of the beginning of the regular season due to injury. As unfortunate as it may be, his absence enabled head coach, Mike Hamilton, to give Bussi the chance. Since then, Brandon has been the go-to guy between the pipes. Most would assume that being almost “replaced” would sour a goalie and backup goalie relationship. That is not the case for the Lumberjacks duo. “Me and Karki are good friends,” he said, “We both compete hard in practice. I think that’s grown our friendship.” At the end of the day, both goaltenders want the team to succeed and will support each other regardless of who is on the bench and who is net.
The partnership and comradery of Bussi and Karki are just a small fraction of what has made Bussi as a player, so successful. The relationships fostered as a team has encouraged the netminder to work harder for them instead of himself.
High on Chemistry
Brandon’s skills can’t be denied but he admits that his job is made easier by the confidence in front of him. “Our team chemistry is so high right now,” he told Acces Hockey MI. “We’re all confident we can win games regardless of if we’re losing or certain players are struggling. We pick each other up.” A goalie can only do so much and though Bussi has enormous talent and a champion attitude, the team culture created by Hamilton and the boys plays a huge role.
Being able to trust your forwards and defensemen and know that the backup has it if ever you need them to, is the reason Bussi and the Lumberjacks have been so successful. Brandon has received two USHL goaltender of the week nominations, but he knows its not just him. With a humble attitude and confidence, he plays for his team.
A Winning Mindset
As Brandon said, the Lumberjacks know they’re going to win. It’s in the air whenever they take the ice. The losses, though few, were short-lived and taken as lessons. For Bussi, it’s an opportunity to learn and improve as a team and individually.
The attention being drawn to Muskegon this season is exponentially greater than last season. With Bussi between the pipes and other skaters stepping up, scouts and fans are giving the Lumberjacks a more serious look. They’ve created a culture that encourages and feeds victory and will keep doing so. At the pace they’re at now, a championship is well within reach.