Thursday, December 9, 2010

It Is All About Faith

I am not very religious but there are times when someone just strikes a chord with me and makes me realize that faith can actually work if you work at it. I bring it up because as I watched Michael Sauer score his first career NHL goal tonight I think about how Sauer's faith taught me to believe myself.

Sauer has been a hero to me for how no matter how many roadblocks that life threw in him, he never once felt sorry for himself, he never doubted  because no matter what that he would be "alright because it is all about faith."

I remember Sauer telling me that as if it was yesterday because he said it to me as he was rehabbing his hip injury back in 2005. It was post game and here he was after playing heavy minutes working out while others were showering and going out with friends.

When I went through my own health issues in 2007, it was his words about faith that helped me deal with my own rehabs. Michael is one of the most devout people I have met but what makes him so special is his faith is his and while he will share it, he won't impose it on you like so many others try to.

Sauer was amazing as you could run him over with a bulldozer and he would get right back up and do whatever rehab he had to in order to get back on the ice. No matter what roadblocks that was placed in front of him, Michael would always tell me things would be "alright because it is all about faith."

Whether it was injury, a truly horrible Portland Winterhawk team or even a Memorial Cup attempt that fell one goal short, Michael's faith was always there for him. Good or bad, it was his faith that helped him in his life.

We had lost touch until I got an email from Michael this summer right before training camp so we got a chance to catch up. It was typical Sauer as he talked about getting married and how the experience had made him more mature.

So when I asked Michael if this was going to be the year he was going to finally make the Rangers, I should have seen the answer coming a mile away as it was as always; He was going to be "alright because it is all about faith."

It is funny how life makes breaks for you as if you stop and think about it if Michael Del Zotto is not a healthy scratch, if Steve Emminger does not get hurt, if not for a video replay or 2 then Michael Sauer is not out there on the power play. That Sauer's first NHL goal was a game winner actually did not surprise me as Sauer throughout the years has never been a big scorer.

How can you not believe when Sauer scores then his old teammate from the Portland Winterhawks Brandon Dubinsky sealed the game with an empty net goal? Want more irony as this weekend is the annual Teddy Bear Toss in Portland and Michael Sauer has a place in Winterhawk history when he set up the overtime game winning teddy bear goal in 2006.

Makes you a believer in him.

A very quiet night for New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects as the only ones to play went head to head in a key OHL matchup. Casey Cizikas (NYI 2009 4th) led his Mississauga St. Micheal's Majors into Niagara for a game against Jason Wilson (NYR 2010 5th) and his Niagara IceDogs.

It turned out to be a pretty good game as it took a 9 round shootout before the Majors wound up a 2-1 winner. Casey Cizika's 16th goal in the 2nd period (shorthanded at 11:45) was all the Majors could put up in regulation.

Cizikas also scored on his shootout attempt as the Islanders best prospect this season continues his outstanding season. At 16-20-36 +23, Cizikas is running away from the Islander prospects with his play.

For the IceDogs, Jason Wilson was scoreless and had the bad luck of missing on his shootout attempt in the 9th round which opened the door for the Majors to win.

In Guelph, Dan Maggio (2009 6th) missed his 5th straight game for the Guelph Storm with an ankle injury. Between injuries and suspensions, Maggio has only gotten to play in 12 games this season which is not going to help his cause to earn a Ranger contract.

And while this has been a great year on the offensive side for Ranger prospects, it is also slowly turning into a very frustrating season for the scouting and development folks. Maggio joins Andrew Yogan (shoulder), Randy McNaught (ankle), Dylan McIlrath (knee) and Scott Stajcer (unknown) as players who have missed more than 5 games at a time this season.

When you are trying to prepare for a draft even one that is over a half a season away, it really hurts when you do not know if you can plan for the future when your future is missing time to injury. And it is also something you can not blame the Rangers for either.

(Sauer/New York Rangers, Cizikas/Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

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