Looking down from the crowd at the ice of the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center, no one will look in the net of the Minnesota State Women’s Hockey Team and see current Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-André Fleury. However, you will likely see senior goaltender Alexa Berg.
Ever since Berg was a kid, she always looked up to Fleury as she aspired to become the best goaltender she could be. From watching games to highlight videos, Berg was all in on forming her game around one of the NHL’s premier goaltenders.
Berg did so enough that she even got recognition from her coach that she started playing like someone familiar.
“I always studied the way he played when I just started being a goalie,” explained Berg. “It got to a point where I knew how he played so much that when I transferred it into my game my goalie coach was like, ‘You kind of remind me of Fleury right now’,” Berg said with a laugh.
Originally from West Fargo, North Dakota, Berg did not start off playing goalie when she first took the ice as an 18-month-old, but after playing her first game as a goaltender in mites, Berg was hooked.
“I was not a goalie starting out,” said Berg. “When it was my turn to play goalie in mites, cause everyone had to take turns, I ended up getting a shutout.”
On top of a first-time shutout, going to University of North Dakota hockey games also pushed Berg to continue staying in the net.
The weekend following her first shutout, Berg traveled with her family to a UND game, and sure enough, their goaltender also got a shutout. It was meant to be for Berg when it came to being a goalie, and being able to stay on the ice 24/7 only helped fuel her desire.
Berg did not have a traditional path to her career as a Maverick, as she originally committed to playing hockey for Norwich University in Vermont. She played four seasons at Norwich before eventually taking on a role in Division I Hockey as the Mavericks’ goaltender for this season.
Berg has seen a lot of success this season despite being a Maverick first-timer, supporting a .916 save percentage along with a team-leading four shutouts.
Berg has had a lot of ups and downs over the years, but one memory she will always hold onto is a story her grandma always tells her.
“Almost every time my grandma meets or tells someone that I play hockey she always tells this story of when she came to one of my games,” explained Berg. “I had seen her at some point and literally just stopped playing. I turned and started waving while the game was going on saying ‘Hi grandma!’ I had no care in the world about the game going on behind me,” said Berg with a laugh. “My dad was a coach and he was just yelling at me to get back to playing the puck.”
It’s safe to say Berg does not get distracted as easily anymore, and one thing she can count on helping her stay focused is her pre-game and post-game rituals. It is well-known in the sport that goaltenders have some of the most obscure rituals.
For Berg, she may not have anything crazy to brag about, but good luck talking to her once she makes it to the rink.
“I always listen to the same songs. I always have a blue raspberry sucker. I put my right pads on first, then my left,” said Berg. “But as soon as I get to the rink, I don’t talk to anyone until the game is over. In the locker room everyone is talking and singing, but me. I don’t. I don’t talk until after the game is finished.”
Talk about being “locked in” as a goaltender.
Now that her collegiate hockey career is coming to an end, Berg said her next chapter is undecided. Her dream is to become a physician assistant in orthopedics after college, but she currently has the offer to coach at Gentry Academy and is looking to take on the other half of her dreams of continuing to be surrounded by the game she loves.
Write to Kole Buelow at Kole.Buelow@mnsu.edu
Header Photo: Senior goaltender, Alexa Berg, defends the goal till the very end of her hockey career. Berg defended for a total of 609 saves this season. (Hayden Lee)