Billy Sauer is now, officially, a Michigan Wolverine.
The 17-year-old Buffalo-area native signed a National Letter of Intent today to play at Michigan this fall and probably assume the No. 1 goaltender's job. Sauer fast-tracked through his senior year of high school to become college-eligible and will do what outgoing goalie Al Montoya did three years ago in being a 17-year-old frosh.
Had Montoya came back for his senior year, Sauer would have stepped in as the 2006 starter.
Sauer, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, played for the United States Hockey League's Chicago Steel in 2004-05. In 30 games, he compiled a record of 12-12-0 and had two overtime losses. His 3.05 goals against average was ninth best in the USHL and his .904 save percentage was also good for ninth among his peers. As the youngest player on the Steel's roster and one of the youngest in the entire USHL, Sauer recorded two shutouts and earned two USHL Defensive Player of the Week awards.
Prior to coming to Michigan in September, Sauer will represent Team USA at the 2005 Under-18 Junior World Cup from Aug. 9-14 in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In 2004 he skated in the Five Nations Tournament for the U.S. Under-17 select team and earned a 1-1 record while stopping 56 of the 59 shots he faced.
He is also being touted as a potential first-round selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
Sauer joins 10 other freshmen who will help compose the roster for the 2005-06 campaign. His classmates will be defensemen Jack Johnson and Mark Mitera and forwards Jason Bailey, Andrew Cogliano, Zac MacVoy, Tim Miller, Brandon Naurato, Tyler Swystun, another 17-year-old, and Travis Turnbull. Forward Danny Fardig will also be on the roster as a recruited walk-on.