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Simple counting exercise adds up to win after win for Minnetonka's Hunter Bauer

By Loren Nelson, Legacy Hockey, 02/24/24, 5:45PM CST


Skippers' goaltender, a Frank Brimsek Award finalist, at his focused best in Section 2AA semifinal win over Eden Prairie

Minnetonka goaltender Hunter Bauer, left, bumps gloves with teammate Ashton Schultz after Saturday's 4-1 Section 2AA semifinal win over Eden Prairie. Photo by Loren Nelson,

EDINA - One, two, three, four, five.

When Minnetonka goaltender Hunter Bauer is in the midst of one of those long stretches where the play is in the other team’s end — and there have been plenty of those this season — Bauer quiets his mind and keeps his focus with a simple counting exercise.

One, two, three, four, five.

When Bauer, a senior, stepped in for his first season starting for the Skippers, it was an eye-opening experience. Minnetonka, the undefeated defending state Class 2A champion, plays such a stifling brand of defense that shots come rarely, if at all.

“I don’t think we’ve given up more than 25 shots more than two or three times this year, so it’s a mental thing,” Minnetonka coach Sean Goldsworthy said after Saturday’s 4-1 victory over Eden Prairie in a Section 2AA semifinal at Braemar Arena. “And Hunter is focused. He can stay in the game where he’s not feeling a lot of rubber on him throughout the periods. 

“There’s games where he sees two, three, four shots a period. And that’s really tough on a high school kid. That’s a professional mindset.”

It’s a mindset that comes from reaching out to friends, fellow goaltenders, mostly. 

“One of them told me just keep on counting to five,” said Bauer, one of three finalists for the Frank Brimsek Award that goes to the state’s top senior goaltender. “And it really quiets your mind. You stop thinking and you just let your habits take over.”

Dylan Vornwald scored Eden Prairie’s lone goal with 6:50 remaining, ending Bauer’s bid for an astounding 13th shutout this season.

“Hunter is great back there. It starts with him,” said Javon Moore, a senior forward and Mr. Hockey finalist who scored twice for the Skippers on Saturday. “Not getting many shots a game, he could possibly get unfocused. But he’s always locked in and ready for the next shot.”

One, two, three, four, five.

The counting technique works great for Bauer in games, as his state-leading 0.89 goals-against average and second-best .952 save percentage attest. Practices bring a different mindset. When Bauer is making save after save, he isn’t shy about letting his teammates know he has the upper hand.

“He’s not the most talkative guy, but out in practice he’ll give us crap and we’ll give it back to him when we score,” Moore said.

Minnetonka senior defenseman Brayden Thompson leads the charge back to the bench after scoring a first-period goal against Eden Prairie on Saturday in a Section 2AA semifinal at Braemar Arena. Photo by Loren Nelson,

Quick Recap

EDINA - Mr. Hockey Award finalist Javon Moore scored twice on power plays and Frank Brimsek Award finalist Hunter Bauer stopped 18 of 19 shots as No. 1 seed Minnetonka eased past No. 4 seed Eden Prairie 4-1 on Saturday at Braemar Arena to remain undefeated.

Moore scored late in the first and third periods for the defending state Class 2A champion and No. 1-2A ranked Skippers (25-0-2). The goals were his team-leading 25th and 26th of the season.

No. 14-2A Eden Prairie’s Dylan Vornwald scored with 6:50 remaining, ruining Bauer’s bid for a 13th shutout of the season.

Minnetonka’s Ashton Schultz the lone goal of the first period on a power play. The Skippers went 3-for-6 with the man advantage.

Isaiah Paulnock made 27 saves for Eden Prairie (17-9-1).

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