Bobby Goepfert had finished listening to the national anthem at a St. Cloud State-Northern Michigan game this season when a fan yelled, “Bobby, do you want me to write your paper for you?” Hardly surprised, Goepfert couldn’t help but chuckle inside.
Goepfert’s dismissal from the Providence College hockey team for accusations of plagiarism is no laughing matter. It caused him to sit out last season, and it soured his reputation. But Goepfert, a junior goaltender, takes solace in the “breath of fresh air” he has discovered since he transferred to St. Cloud State. Most St. Cloud State fans are aware of Goepfert’s dismissal, which came in May 2004 after Goepfert didn’t include a bibliography in a 16-page English paper about the assimilation of immigrants. Few have questioned Goepfert, who ranks second in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with a 2.06 goals-against average and is third with a .926 save percentage. Goepfert (16-12-4) is the primary reason No. 6 seed St. Cloud State could challenge No. 5 seed Colorado College in a best-of-three, firstround WCHA playoff series that begins Friday at World Arena. Chances are Goepfert would have left Providence if he hadn’t been kicked off the team. He said he wasn’t happy, and he started doing “some uncharacteristic things,” such as skipping study sessions and slacking off in classes. Goepfert pulled an all-nighter to finish the paper in which he was accused of plagiarism. Two days after he e-mailed the paper to his professor, former Providence coach Paul Pooley, who is now an assistant at Notre Dame, dismissed him from the team. “My cell phone rang, and it was coach Pooley, and he told me, ‘I’m tired of your stuff. We’re revoking your scholarship.’ It was a big misunderstanding,” Goepfert said. “I really didn’t have a chance to speak my case.” Goepfert maintains he didn’t intend to plagiarize. “It wasn’t like I was going to use all these guys’ works for my own,” Goepfert said. “Most of the stuff I provided were numbers, but they were from Web pages. The only attachment I sent was the paper.” After Providence prohibited Goepfert from transferring to another Hockey East school — Goepfert wanted to attend Boston University — he contacted several WCHA coaches, including CC’s Scott Owens. Owens said Goepfert likely wouldn’t have been a good fit at CC. Former St. Cloud State coach Craig Dahl saw potential in Goepfert, despite his off-ice issues. “We didn’t feel it was a big problem,” said Dahl, who was replaced by Bob Motzko after he retired last summer. “I knew he was a pretty smart kid. He just had to apply himself.” Goepfert said he’s glad St. Cloud State gave him a chance. “Maybe it is a blessing in disguise,” Goepfert said of his dismissal from Providence. “This year has been great. I’ve enjoyed every second of it.” Slap shots CC left wing Brett Sterling (injured leg) practiced Tuesday in a nocontact jersey for about 35 minutes. He will attempt to practice with contact today or Thursday. . . . Owens turned 50 on Tuesday. He wore a 50th birthday button on his warm-up jacket, and the players sang “Happy Birthday” after practice. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0256 or firstname.lastname@example.org