In both games this weekend, the Missouri State ice hockey team had to rely on its goalkeeper. Luckily for the Ice Bears, Mike Poepping likes high stress situations and feeds off of the challenge.
If the weekend could be summed up in one moment it would be when the entire Ice Bears team swarmed to the goal after Poepping made the game winning save during Saturday's game against Robert Morris-Chicago in a shootout.
"I like the pressure in these situations," Poepping said. "It is fun, you know. It is a do-or-die situation, and if I can't do this, the game is over."
Though the Ice Bears won the shootout Saturday, the American Collegiate Hockey Association does not recognize shootouts in Division II games, so the Ice Bears' official record is now 4-1-1.
In Saturday's game, Poepping got an even better chance to help his team. He was given a chance to get the win for them.
The game went into overtime, just like the night before. But unlike the night before, neither team was able to score the winning goal. Saturday's game was going to a shootout, in which the team that had the most goals after three shots would win.
Missouri State scored on its first shot of the shootout, on a goal from Bryan Beaman. The Ice Bears would fail to score on their next two tries.
Poepping, however, stepped up and stopped all three Eagles' shot in between the two Missouri State misses to give the Ice Bears the decisive margin.
"It is great to have Poepping back there," Beaman said. "He is big for us. It gives the rest of us a lot of confidence knowing he is behind us."
The Ice Bears won against Robert Morris for the fourth time in three years.
"It is awesome to have him in goal," team captain Salman Shah said. "I told the team before we had the shootout that we definitely had the advantage."
Friday's game against Robert Morris was sent into overtime after both teams scored two goals, the Ice Bears in the first period and the Eagles in the second. Neither team scored in the third.
With a minute and a half left in the overtime period, Danny Bethmann got a shot through the Eagles' defense and into the back of the net.
It was the rock solid goal keeping from Poepping, who had 20 saves, that set up the chance to win.
"It is great being able to sit back in goal," Poepping said Friday after the game. "I like backing up the team and giving them a chance to win."
"For a goalie, he is very vocal," coach Mike Schroeder said. "He is definitely a leader. He is vocal in the locker room, and he knows the game very well."
After the game on Saturday, Poepping went a step further and pumped the crowd up by making a head-long dive to slide across the ice in celebration.
"I try to be a leader," Poepping said. "When something happens, I talk to the captain and the assistant captains. I try to be vocal. When they need it, I calm the team down, and when they need it, I pump the team up."