Save Made by Haaland
Red Bull Racing Team looks for the elite, the supremely skilled when it comes to servicing a stock car under extreme conditions. Brian Haaland is one of the elite and the skilled, partly because he was goaltender for the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s ice hockey team.
Haaland changes the front tires on the No. 83 driven by Brian Vickers, and he’s well aware that asphalt can be just as slick — and intense — as the ice between the pipes. He tended goal from 1999 to 2004 in Omaha.
“As a goalie, you have to be square to the puck to stop it,” Haaland said. “As a tire changer, you have to be square to the wheel to hit the lug nuts. Hand-eye coordination is big and being able to catch a 100-mph slap shot probably helps in reacting to certain situations on pit road.”
Haaland is one of the many athletes on Red Bull Racing Team’s pit squad, but no other athlete can say they’ve taken frozen pucks on the chin. “It’s such a team environment,” Haaland said of the No. 83 Bull Crew. “It reminds me of playing on a hockey team, where the guys are really close, training and pushing in the weight room and practice — and then on pit road.”
This week is special for Haaland. Two of his buddies and former teammates at UN-Omaha — Nashville Predators forward Jed Ortmeyer and defenseman Greg Zanon — are prepping for a first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings.
“I’ve got the NHL package,” Haaland said, “so I can check those guys out.”
Haaland’s prediction for the upcoming NHL playoffs? “I always go for the goalie. If Dominik Hasek is healthy, Detroit will be real strong. In the East, Marty Brodeur with the (New Jersey) Devils is tough.”