Goal in Mind
Everybody loves a big upset (unless of course you are cast in the role of the forlorn favorite), so last week’s surprising 2-1 win by Niagara over No. 1 Mercyhurst caught plenty of notice across the hockey spectrum.
The architect of all that eyebrow arching was junior netminder Jenni Bauer, a self-described homebody, who did a darned good job of shooing the Lakers out of her kitchen.
In the process, Bauer – a six-time CHA Defensive Player of the Week – helped keep the Purple Eagles feeling good about themselves.
â€œIt’s always exciting playing against Mercyhurst,â€ said Bauer, who hails from St. Catharines, Ont. â€œI think it was a big step for our program to show that we really can play with any team in the country. It was nice to get that win, but it’s important to move forward now.â€
Aw, but you gotta take last one peek backward.
After all, the Lakers had held an unbroken stranglehold on the top spot in the USCHO D-I poll since the first days of the season, and had lost just once all year.
And it wasn’t as though they let Niagara walk all over them.
They fired 45 shots at Bauer (the Eagles had just 15), but put just one, Jess Jones’ power play tally late in the game, behind her.
â€œIt was a pretty good feeling,â€ Bauer said. â€œWe were pretty happy with the way we played that game. Everybody showed up to play. We executed the systems like Coach Mac asked of us. It was really good.â€
Bauer said that the lopsided shot total might not have told the story.
That the contest was a little more evenly played than it might have seemed.
â€œIt was pretty busy all game,â€ she said. â€œThey were firing the pucks from everywhere. But defensively, I think we did a pretty good job. A lot of shots blocked in front, and a lot of cleared rebounds. A lot of shots were from the outside. As a defensive unit, we did a pretty good job of keeping our zone pretty clear.â€
Shutting down the nation’s most prolific attack is bound to be a confidence builder.
Actually, her mojo has been working for her since hooking up with goalie coach Shivaun Siegl, who arrived this year with new NU coach Chris MacKenzie.
Siegl, who played for both Mercyhurst and Vermont, has helped Bauer reconstruct her game, and her confidence.
â€œIt’s been really helpful to have somebody there, every day of the week,â€ said Bauer. â€œWe’ve been focusing on the technical aspects of things. We’ve spent a lot of time going over video clips and looking at games. It’s a lot different being able to see yourself on video from the previous weekend and from practice. It’s easy to think you’re doing something wrong. But once you see it, you can learn from yourself and fix it.â€
Fixed in a different fashion was Bauer’s initial choice of schools.
She spent her freshman year at Bemidji State, but although she had earned a spot with the Beavers, she found her longings for the Niagara Frontier too strong to stifle.
â€œI was about 20 hours away from home,â€ said Bauer, who is majoring in social work and communications at NU. â€œI’m more of a homebody and it’s nice to be able to come back. People ask that question a lot, and there’s not really an easy answer. When you go to a school on a visit, it’s easy to like the school. I liked being there, but it was hard to be that far away from home.â€
She feels at home now.
Snug in the Purple Eagles’ goal crease.
While No. 2 Mercyhurst, or the new No. 1 Minnesota, might still be considered as the hottest teams in the nation, not far behind those two is No. 8 Connecticut.
The Huskies are working on a 10-game unbeaten streak (9-0-1) heading into this weekend’s home games with BC and UNH.
Goalie Alexandra Garcia has been dominant during this stretch, throwing consecutive shutouts at BU and Vermont last weekend, and allowing just four goals in her last seven starts.