Just before he was to begin his senior year at St. Cloud State, he was supposed to call his coaches and report the grade he received in his final summer school class. He kept them hanging on the line for a couple of minutes, hinting that the Huskies might have to do without their All-American goalie.
Finally, at the appropriate moment and just after a couple of hearts sank and Adam's apples rose, he broke out laughing and revealed he got an A (Bobby's a regular Jerry Lewis).
Such is life with someone who conducts as much monkey business as anyone to pass through the National Hockey Center (except Craig Dahl).
As the Huskies open their 20th Division I season on Friday against Denver, Goepfert can make a case that he's also the best goalie they've ever had (that's not saying much, believe me). After leaving Providence under an academic cloud as a sophomore (cough, Cheetah, cough), he found a new home in Central Minnesota. Last season he set a school record for goals-against average. His save percentage was two-thousandths behind Scott Meyer, SCSU's only previous All-American goalie. And Goepfert played on a sixth-place team, becoming just the second goalie in school history to face more than 1,000 shots.
Based on his replacements' save percentage, Goepfert made a difference of 10 wins and two ties in St. Cloud State's 22-16-4 record. Without him, there's no way the Huskies get to the WCHA Final Five. With him, they came within a goal of making the NCAA Tournament after a four-year drought (speaking of droughts how's the NCAA's current Longest Tournament Losing Streak coming along?).
This fall, he still might tape an unwitting teammate's sticks together, or hide a teammates underwear (panties). But he's also up to some serious business.
"I've tried to take a throwback approach," said Goepfert, who arrived for his final college season with a crew cut and tan pads that harken to the days when goalies played without masks. "I wanted to get old-school with my training this summer. There came a point at which I realized this is going to be my last year and I've seen friends win championships. I've never played in the NCAAs. I've never won a championship (Lets hope he leads SCSU to the Dairy Queen Minnesota Cup this season). I haven't done a lot of things I set out to do."
If he succeeds in 2006-07, chances are he'll earn a spot on SCSU's all-time team (now there's an honor. Let see there's Mark Hartigan and then.....OK, I give up).
A Times panel, including former head coach Craig Dahl and former hockey writer Mike Killeen, selected Meyer and Brian Leitza — though Dahl said Goepfert already deserves to be on the squad.
"He's the best we've had," Dahl said. "I don't need another season to see it. I knew it before he even played a game here (that's why he "quit" before Bobby ever played a game for SCSU???)."
While that sounds great, Goepfert's last two games haunted him all summer and serve as a reminder of how close or how far he remains from his goals. There was the roller-coaster 8-7 win over top-ranked Minnesota in the Final Five semifinals. Then came a 5-3 loss to North Dakota — a team he'd beaten in three of four regular-season games — in the championship (hmm, 12 goals in two games...How are they going to spin this?). That was also his sixth start in nine days during a chaotic playoff run (of course, the old 6th-start-in-9-days-excuse. Don't let the NHL scouts get a hold of this).
He can recall any of the goals he gave up during that stretch, describing them as though they happened at this afternoon's practice. As recent as June, he still had trouble sleeping as a result. He'd toss and turn, give up and pop in a recording of one of those games in the middle of the night. He'd see himself flailing at pucks, allowing goals in places he had a feeling they were going to go (Wait till this weekend against the Pioneers). He just didn't get there. He reminisced about it recently while sitting in his living room, on the very couch where he'd crash — only to dream about stopping Ryan Potulny's one-timer in the waning seconds of regulation.
"That Gophers game was probably the most fun experience of my life," Goepfert said. "It sounds funny, being a goalie in an 8-7 game, but we won. Twenty-thousand people there. It was a great atmosphere. I remember walking to the rink and how Casey (Borer) wouldn't let (Minnesota captain Gino) Guyer win the (ceremonial) face-off."
And then he'd see himself start to press — like against the Sioux, when the Huskies trailed 3-1 at the first intermission despite outshooting North Dakota almost 2-to-1. That feeling, one of letting his team down in a championship game, is one he doesn't want to re-live. It drives him today.
"I'm still going to goof off, but I think I'm going to try to pick my spots now," Goepfert said.