Sunday, March 23, 2008
THOSE WHO STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS
I think Coach Berenson should paint that in the locker room at Yost, just like Bo did at the Big House, because today he proved it.
This team endured harsh criticism at the beginning of the season. The college hockey media picked them to be fourth in the CCHA and be a bubble team to get into the NCAA tournament. Just goes to show how much we know. Jack Johnson and Andrew Cogliano both left the team as sophomores to pursue careers in the NHL, and while they have already made a mark in the pros, the wolverines could have probably used their help at some point in the season.
But Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik both returned for their senior years as opposed to signing contracts with the Phoenix Coyotes. Travis Turnbull the unfairly overlooked undrafted junior came back and proved his worth. Brandon Naurato also did so, and vastly improved his chances of getting into professional hockey as well. Mark Mitera returned and after scoring two very costly own goals in consecutive weeks, came back and really did a lot to keep the team going late in games (that's as much an apology for my previous remarks as i'm going to make). And who can forget Tim Miller, the man who was the MVP of this tournament for scoring four points combined in the semifinal vs. NMU and the final vs. Miami.
Billy Sauer, what more needs to be said about him. A real comeback kid. His first two seasons he went through all kinds of hell because of the fact that he gave up bad goals at crucial parts of the game. This culminated in the embarrassing 8-5 loss to North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA tournament. His previous game he gave up a really horrible goal to Notre Dame in the CCHA final that was a direct result of his misplaying it, the goal wound up winning the game for the Irish and Billy's confidence was destroyed just in time for the NCAA tournament.
When practice started heating up, the rumor around the hockey team was that Coach Berenson was going to rotate Billy in goal with freshman Bryan Hogan. Coach would later admit he was considering it at the time. Lo and behold, before the season even started Hogan got mono and Billy was expected to be the starting goalie. Not only was he not a sieve, he was phenomenal. Shutout both games in the GLI, made key saves to bail out the team in crucial moments, beat Minnesota, beat Notre Dame, there is not a team that Billy Sauer has played against so far this year that he hasn't beaten. He not only went out and proved that he is worth his weight in salt as a goalie, he defied everyone's expectations this year and he went out and proved to everyone that he was here to stay and be a Michigan man.
Normally I would write a game summary column, but this work of Mitch Albom-esque writing should suffice until we find out about Michigan's drawing in the tournament.