Billy Sauer had been waiting for last weekend for a long time.

Not just the 12 days between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs, but the two years since he played post-season hockey.

And when his playoff opportunity finally presented itself, the sophomore goalie loved it.

“It was awesome,” Sauer said. “Not being able to play (in the playoffs) the last couple years and coming out and to get two wins as quickly as we did and as confidently as we did, it’s a great feeling.”

Going into the weekend, it was a different goalie getting his first taste of the playoffs who garnered the attention.

Northern Michigan goaltender Brian Stewart came into the CCHA quarterfinal series off a magical weekend against Ohio State.

The 22-year-old freshman replaced the Wildcats’ starting goalie during their 6-2 Game 1 loss to the Buckeyes. Stewart went on to acrobatically lead Northern Michigan to victories in Games 2 and 3, securing the upset.

But at Yost Ice Arena last Friday, it didn’t take long for Sauer to steal the show from Stewart.

The Wolverines got to Stewart quickly, scoring three goals in Friday’s first period. Meanwhile, Sauer made the most of his first playoff game.

“Billy Sauer made some key saves in the first period,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said following Friday’s game. “I thought Billy was sharp when he had to be, and he gave us some protection.”

Along with his solid goalkeeping Friday night, Sauer got in on Michigan’s high-powered offense. The Walworth, N.Y., native got the initial assist on Matt Hunwick’s power-play goal in the first period. It was Sauer’s first career point.

In the second period, Sauer wowed the Yost crowd yet again. With a Northern Michigan player chasing down a loose puck for a sure-fire breakaway opportunity, Sauer made a rare foray from the crease.

Sprinting out toward the blue line, Sauer reached the puck just in time, sliding on his knees as he cleared the puck.

“It was the playoffs, so I felt more comfortable (leaving the crease),” Sauer said. “I was more revved up.”

The added energy obviously paid off. After Friday night, Sauer couldn’t ask for a better playoff stat line: one game, one win, one goal against, a .955 save percentage and one assist.

The numbers weren’t as impressive in Game 2, but the result was the same.

Despite giving up three power-play goals, Sauer was solid yet again. None of the goals were Sauer’s fault, senior Tim Cook said.

Sauer even got to take a breather for the final five-and-a-half minutes.

Michigan was up by five goals and Berenson gave senior third-string goalie Mike Mayhew some playing time in his final game at Yost.

But Sauer will be back in net for Friday’s semifinal game versus Michigan State.

“I’m pumped (for Friday),” Sauer said. “Especially playing against Michigan State – there’s not much more that needs to be said about that.”

After such an impressive weekend, it’s no wonder he can’t wait.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.