In loss, the red around Adam Hauser’s eyes blazed like the oft-lit goal light which prematurely ended his evening.
In victory, the junior goaltender donned a smile as bright as his play.
Win or lose, the face behind the mask bore the mark of Minnesota’s split with North Dakota last weekend.
After giving up four goals on 15 Fighting Sioux shots in Friday’s 4-1 loss, Hauser regrouped for a 20-save, one-goal effort in the Gophers 5-1 win on Saturday.
On a weekend which saw Hauser set Minnesota career goaltending marks for minutes and games played, it was assistance from the former owner of both records that made the difference.
Former Hobey Baker winner Robb Stauber, now Minnesota’s volunteer goalie coach, spoke with a disparaged Hauser following Friday’s game, passing on both wisdom and compassion.
“I told him that he’s got to enjoy bad nights as well as good nights,” Stauber said. “He didn’t play well. He’d be the first to admit it, and I’d be the first to reiterate it. But you have to remind yourself that there’s only 30,000 people who really care. So you can’t carry the weight of the world into every game.”
“I was surprised at the things he said,” Hauser said. “He could’ve been more negative, but he was able to find some positives. And that was nice to hear, because there was a lot of negative floating in my mind.”
Hauser was pulled at the 6:17 mark of the third period Friday, taking an embarrassing .375 save percentage for the night with him.
He addressed reporters unshowered, cloaked in frustration and the T-shirt and shorts worn under his equipment.
“When you’re on a roll, you want to stay on it because it can be cut at any time,” Hauser said. “When you’re doing things wrong, you need to cut it out fast.”
On Saturday, North Dakota’s Tim Skarperud — who forced Hauser from the game with a third period goal Friday — opened the scoring in the first period.
Undaunted, Hauser hung in and made an impressive save early in the second period, robbing Travis Roche of a sure goal. Hauser slid across the crease to stone the top-scoring defenseman in the WCHA.
“Hauser was good in the net,” Fighting Sioux coach Dean Blais said. “Not that we threw a lot of rubber at him, but he was good when he had to be.”
“It all started with No. 1 tonight,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said.
Hauser addressed reporters on Saturday wearing his customary shirt and tie, along with the occasional grin. Free of the burden which accompanied his abysmal performance Friday, Hauser made his way into the evening a little happier and a little wiser.
“I was proud of him,” Stauber said. “He got better as the game went on. You have to decide which way you’re going to go, and he was able to overtake that negativity lingering in his mind and roll with it.”
David La Vaque covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]