Rookie no more, Hauser paces U

Sarah Mitchell

Gophers goaltender Adam Hauser spent Minnesota’s first home series saving shot after shot. But it just wasn’t good enough.
He recorded a career-high 44 saves Friday against North Dakota and returned Saturday to stop 30 more Sioux shots. But Hauser’s poised presence in the net didn’t merit the Gophers more than one point in WCHA standings.
Minnesota tied North Dakota 2-2 Friday and lost to the Sioux 3-2 Saturday.
“That’s the most important position in the game and if we get that kind of goaltending all year, we’ll be hanging around every night,” first-year Gophers coach Don Lucia said.
The sophomore from Bovey, Minn., fought off countless odd-man rushes and point-blank shots on both nights. But Hauser’s play on Friday was more heralded.
In the series opener, Minnesota skated on the same level as the defending WCHA champion Sioux. Even when the Gophers defense broke down, Hauser remained stingy between the pipes.
Nineteen of Hauser’s 44 saves were recorded in the second period of the game, which eventually went to overtime. But the young goalie didn’t readily accept the praise.
“(North Dakota) had 20 guys shooting at me. My job is to stop the puck and my defensemen were there to clear it away when they needed to,” Hauser said. “You don’t have to necessarily look at me.”
Luck also had a hand in the game. Receiving a pass from Sioux sophomore winger Bryan Lundbohm, center Jeff Panzer’s shot with 33 seconds remaining in overtime nearly lit the red lamp. But the puck deflected off the left post and back through the crease where Hauser fell on it.
“Puck hits the post in overtime. I got lucky there. Somebody was right there to clear it away for me. When I looked around it was all white,” said Hauser, referring to Minnesota’s home uniforms. “It’s nice to have that.”
On Saturday, Hauser didn’t have his teammates’ protection. The Gophers skated as individuals and Minnesota’s inability to keep up with North Dakota was especially noticeable in the second period.
Two Sioux freshmen lit up Hauser within 19 seconds of each other. Wingers Ryan Bayda and Kevin Spiewak each dumped in the first of their careers to give the Sioux a two-goal edge.
“I’d say it’s my fault. The puck went in the net. I wasn’t there to stop it,” Hauser said. “It’s bang-bang plays. It’s North Dakota being North Dakota. We’ve got to defend that. We’ll get better at it.”
Obviously frustrated by Saturday’s outcome, Hauser remained optimistic about the season ahead. One of these weekends, Hauser’s effort in goal is going to be enough.
“We’re shooting high,” Hauser said. “You aim for the moon and if you miss you land among the stars. I heard that one time.”

Sarah Mitchell covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]