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Comet Tales: Meet Yann Sauve

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Don LaibleSkiing, snowboarding, and pond hockey, these are the roots of Vancouver Canucks draftee and Utica Comets defenseman Yann Sauve.

During the recent all-star break, like so many others on AHL rosters, Yann Sauve disappeared from his team’s home city. Thoughts of hockey aside, a mental and physical escape from the often grinding demands of work was the plan. For Sauve, this meant a four hour-plus drive to Rigaud, Quebec.

With slightly more than two dozen regular season contests left in the Comets inaugural season, every game is essential when looking ahead to possible playoff participation. Fans know this, players are aware, every bit as much. So for Sauve, clearing his head and relaxing , the 6’3″ 218 lb. Canucks second round draft pick in 2008 saw friends and family.

“I grew up in a border town (Rigaud), between Ontario and Quebec,” says Sauve, who has skated in 41 Utica games this season. “We’re halfway between Montreal and Ottawa.”

Sauve tells of growing up in southwestern Quebec where the local ski mountain and lake were where he spent much of his time. Skiing, fishing, snowboarding, and, of course, playing hockey kept him no different than most Canadian boys his age. So it would only make sense that he would choose to spend his rest and relaxation period during this hockey season, where it all began for him.

Returning for the back-end of his fourth AHL season, Sauve is focused. “We’ll be fine. Three games in three nights, you just deal with it. We’re battling for a playoff spot. You do what you have to, to get the job done,” Sauve states.

Earlier this month, after making his NHL debut with the Canucks three years ago, Sauve was dispatched to the Comets parent club for three games. “They (Vancouver) had had a lot of injuries, so I got to play, and it was really fun. It was good to be back in the NHL,” Sauve said.

This time around on the NHL level, Sauve admits to being more relaxed. Knowing most of the guys from training camp, Sauve, who has chalked up 41 penalty minutes in his first 41 games as a Comet, knew what to expect. “I played my game simple, and everything went well.”

Much of the confidence exhibited by Sauve on The AUD’s ice, and during his most recent call-up, stems from when as a 20-year old joining the Canucks for five games in 2011. He knew then, after playing with and against guys he idolized as a fan, that he was able to play on their level. This was a tremendous confidence builder for Sauve. “The more experience you get in the NHL, you learn more tricks on how to be a pro,” Sauve explains.

When selected by Vancouver, fortunately for Sauve and his supporters, in 2008 the NHL entry draft was held in Ottawa – only a one hour drive from Rigaud. Sauve remembers the experience as ‘great’, to hear his name called. Surrounded with friends and family, the monumental shift in his approach in hockey saw Sauve ‘step up his game’.

Four seasons in the QMJHL with the Saint John (New Brunswick) Sea Dogs allowed Sauve to develope as NHL scouts had predicted. “As a 19-year old with Saint John, I really enjoyed my time there and playing for Gerard Gallant and Mike Kelly (coaches). They were good to me and the rest of the players. You wanted to win for them. They asked a lot from you but they were fair,” Sauve recalls of his Sea Dogs days.

As for Sauve’s impression of Utica, and all aspects of hockey that surround the market, he is impressed. “It (Utica) is an AHL city that is run like and NHL team,”declares Sauve. “The fans have been great in supporting us. It is a thrill to be here. The rink is awesome.”

So, as some of the most important hockey is played by the Comets in their first year of operation down the stretch, knowing that players as Yann Sauve are happy, on and off the ice, adds to the meaning of success.