MADISON ― Michigan senior goaltender Billy Sauer has started this season with a disappointing 2-6 record. But the poor win-loss total isn’t entirely his fault ― the Wolverine offense has made Sauer’s life in net miserable.
In his two wins, Sauer received a total of eight goals of support. In his six losses, the Wolverines scored just four total goals.
In Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Wisconsin, the senior played spectacular through the first two periods. The game was scoreless through 40 minutes.
With 12 minutes remaining in the second period, Sauer saved a shot but was out of position on the rebound. A Badger attempted a wraparound, but Sauer dove back to close the opening and cover the puck.
“He stood on his head in the second period,” Berenson said. “When you play on the road, the other team is going to catch fire at some point. They did and he matched that. We had to respond for him and we didn’t do it.”
Moments after his big save, Sauer made another stop that stunned the Kohl Center crowd.
After a medium-range shot that Sauer stopped stick-side, a Wisconsin player recovered the rebound and looked to stuff the puck into the empty side of the net. But the Michigan goalie got his stick over just in time to keep the game scoreless.
“He played phenomenally,” junior acting-captain Chris Summers said. “If it wasn’t for him, it would have been a whole different story. We wouldn’t have been 0-0 going into the third period. That gave us a little confidence.”
Though Sauer gave Michigan a chance through two periods, penalties killed the Wolverines.
Sauer saved 13 shots in the second period when the Wolverines spent much of the period down a man. Though two third-period power-play goals doomed Michigan, it wouldn’t have been so close without Sauer.
Game changing moments: Usually a game isn’t defined by two minutes of play, but Michigan’s 3-0 loss to Wisconsin was decided in that short period of time.
The Wolverines started the third period on a power play after sophomore Carl Hagelin drew an interference penalty on a chance down low.
The power play had the potential to swing momentum in Michigan’s favor after a dismal second period, but Wisconsin easily killed the penalty.
Freshman defenseman Greg Pateryn picked up a penalty seconds later, and Wisconsin scored the game winner on the ensuing power play.
“It’s a 0-0 game after two and we’ve got to generate something on that power play and it didn’t happen,” Berenson said. “Then we take a bad penalty, and pretty soon we’re on our heels. We had a couple of isolated chances, but they were the better team on the night.”
Why Thanksgiving?: It seems games against Big Ten competition would be a big draw for both students and fans of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
But with the College Hockey Showcase occurring Thanksgiving weekend, most students weren’t on campus.
The Wisconsin student section at the Kohl Center was practically empty Saturday.
The official attendance was announced at 14,025, but that number was a gross exaggeration. The arena with a capacity of 15,237 was about two-thirds full.