The year 2020 will go down as one full of twists, turns and tumult, as Bauer Neudecker certainly can attest. Since January, the college hockey player from St. Louis Park had had these experiences:
* He suffered a broken ankle, an injury with which he played through the end of the season;
* His Alabama Huntsville team finished with a 2-26-6 record.
* The coronavirus pandemic hit, which delayed his ankle surgery.
* Alabama Huntsville dropped its hockey program, then reinstated it a week later.
* Chargers coach Mike Corbett, who recruited Neudecker, was forced out.
* Neudecker decided to enter the NCAA transfer portal.
“It was a crazy couple of weeks, for sure, with the program being cut then brought back,’’ Neudecker said. “It leaves a lot of questions, but it’s pretty cool for the program to have that much support to come back.’’
Neudecker, however, likely won’t be back in Huntsville. The junior-to-be and lone Minnesotan on the Chargers roster is looking for another program, hoping to continue his hockey career. “I’m still reaching out and talking to some schools,’’ said Neudecker, who had no goals and six assists this season after collecting seven goals and seven assists as a freshman. “I haven’t decided that yet. I’m leaving my options open and just taking everything in that has happened.’’
Like many college players who weren’t top-end recruits, the 5-8, 165-pound Neudecker took a long route to Division I hockey. He was a Mr. Hockey finalist at St. Louis Park after amassing 34 goals and 39 assists as a senior in 2016-17, then had a brief stint in the NAHL before spending the 2017-18 season split between Dubuque and Sioux City of the USHL. He landed at Alabama Huntsville the following fall.
“A big reason was Coach Corbett, honestly,’’ said Neudecker, who returned to Minnesota when the coronavirus hit. “I really liked the way the program was going. Good weather, too. Might as well get out of Minnesota and experience a little something different. All around, it was a really good experience there.’’
This season was frustrating for a forward who relies on his playmaking skills. The Chargers were shut out six times this season and scored only one goal in 13 other games.
“Dealing with the injury was always in your head,’’ Neudecker said. “Our record didn’t show it, but we were a better team than that.’’
After six months of challenges, Neudecker is on the mend, returning to skating this week. Next up is the decision on his future hockey home.
“It’s a weird time and a tough decision I’ll have to make,’’ he said. “I’ll make the best decision on what’s right for me.’’