Photo Credit: Bill Ayock
For the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville, the start to their season is hopefully indicative of better things to come, and soon. These Chargers have already tied their win total from last year, and numerous players from last year’s team are improving on their statistics. Bauer has two goals and two points in eight games. Last year he had no goals and six assists in 31 games. Already he is on pace to provide a big piece of UAH’s output this year. The junior forward credits his renaissance on the ice to his teammates, especially his freshman linemate Tyrone Bronte. Of Bronte, Bauer had many good things to say about him, including that he puts “his best foot forward every day.” In addition, he had many good things to say about his other teammates, especially his classmate Ben Allen, who scored the equalizer with 2.4 seconds left in regulation of their overtime win against Ferris State.
One of those players is junior captain Bauer Neudecker who is a St. Louis Park, Minnesota native. Growing up, hockey was what Bauer did after he saw his dad playing it. He was first on the ice when he was two. Ever since then, he has worked his way up the development ladder to Huntsville. This year, he is one of the leaders on the ice with his fast and deceptive shot, overall speed, and effort. Off the ice, he is the leader for this team, and more.
As Team Captain of the Chargers, Bauer is a part of building the new tradition of UAH Hockey. Through moving on to the new chapter, he has been a part of something unique to this program. For the first time in a while, the Chargers have a player of the game award to give out after each win. The player of the game gets to “ride” a play horse, and wear a cowboy hat. That is part of the new tradition that Bauer is helping to build, especially among a group of 13 freshmen. So far, Dayne Finnson and David Fessenden have each earned the honor in the two UAH wins. This is the first year that the team has done that after wins, according to Bauer.
There is something unique about Bauer’s captaincy. He is a junior, and could be captain of the team for three years. Due to the extra year of eligibility afforded all student athletes this season, it is possible that UAH could have no one leave. As to taking the extra year, it is something Bauer is strongly considering doing. He could have left during the time where the program was seeking reinstatement, but never wanted to do so, and did not have any desire besides leading this team. As he said of being in Huntsville and being able to play for the Chargers program, “I loved the past two years I was here.”
Into this year, given the staff changes, Neudecker has noticed some positives from the new staff. On Associate Head Coach Karlis Zirnis he said that Karlis, “brings intensity to practice and keeps us focused” and that “he makes sure players watch videos make sure we are dialed in.” In practical terms, Zirnis’x ability to communicate the new expectations for this program to the team, and that attention to detail has arguably manifested itself in different areas on the ice, like the nation-leading power play.
In addition to Karlis, Bauer praised Assistant Coach Carmine Guerriero for his work with Fessenden and the skaters as well. He thinks that Carmine has made Fessenden more NHL-ready with proper time and training. Fessenden himself is “not easy to score on, ” despite the starting netminder noting that Bauer himself has a hard to track shot. Relating to his work on helping the skaters, Bauer notes that Carmine does an excellent job of breaking down opposing goalies and helping prepare the Chargers to attack each goaltender’s weaknesses in a unique manner.
Regarding his future, Neudecker compares his game to former Boston College star, Jonny Gaudreau. Both play their strengths of speed and quickness, and can add some physicality to the game when needed. For Bauer to be the next Charger that represents UAH at the NHL level, he still has some things to improve upon that he noted, he noted that he wanted to work on his shots despite Fessenden’s note of how hard he is to face. As Neudecker rounds out his game over at least the next two seasons, scouts will take notice of his leadership of this program at a difficult time, combined with his speed and elusive shot. Not many three-year captains exist in this sport, and Bauer has al of the on, and off-ice traits needed to become one. As this program works to forge its renewed legacy at the Division One level, Bauer is adding his own chapters to it while leading the Herd forward.
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