“I now play every game with a smile and enjoy every minute of it.” – Kassidy Sauvé
It had been five hundred and eighty-one days since Kassidy Sauvé last played for the Ohio State Buckeyes and you’d better believe she had been counting. Despite missing almost two full years of game action, the redshirt sophomore from Brooklin, Ontario is now re-establishing herself as one of the best goaltenders in the NCAA. In her first month back between the pipes, Sauvé has already been named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week twice – posting a tremendous .953 save percentage through her first eight games.
After Nadine Muzerall was named the team’s third head coach in as many years, Ohio State was looking at this season as the beginning of a new era. With the goal of moving on from a rough past, the team’s journey fits perfectly with that of their netminder.
As a freshman two seasons ago, Sauvé put up an impressive .925 save percentage in 20 games while playing on a team that finished a game below .500 in conference play. What pushes her performance from ‘impressive’ to ‘astounding’ is the fact that she was playing with a great deal of pain in her left hip and thigh. Compensating for the pain eventually led to further injury and Sauvé had to be shut down, resulting in her extended time away from the Buckeyes.
After surgery that was needed to clean up multiple injuries to her hip – the most severe of which was a bone lesion on her femur – Sauvé started on the road to recovery. For anyone who has ever played goalie, you’d know how difficult it is to play with a tight hip, let alone one that has been operated on.
Sauvé had to change the way she trained and change the way she played in the net. She told me that in some ways the injuries were a ‘blessing in disguise’ since they forced her to focus more on her technique than relying on her athleticism.
It was a long road back - one that no doubt caused a lot of angst and discouragement, but on September 30th of this year, Sauvé took the crease for the Buckeyes in their season opener and she hasn’t looked back.
Through eight games, Ohio State is 3-4-1, a record that includes a 1-1 tie with the top-ranked team in the country in Wisconsin. Sauvé had a combined 90 saves in her two games against Minnesota this past weekend and if anyone was still questioning her return, her performance this month should have put away all doubts.
She has started each of the team’s first eight games, and in the process, Sauvé has only allowed ten even strength goals – 15 in total. In addition to this, she currently sits second in the WCHA with an amazing .953 save percentage.
Given the adversity, she has faced most people would have been left feeling sorry for themselves. A two-year absence from the game you love has to wear on you no matter what your personality is. That said, Sauvé never felt sorry for herself and never lost sight of her goals.
Ohio State has a long way to go to be a national contender, but with Sauvé providing a rock to build upon, the team has the potential to do some damage this year and beyond. As the undisputed starter and an inspirational leader, Sauvé is going to be an integral part of the ‘new era’ for Buckeyes hockey. As she goes, so will the team. And if the early returns are any indication, both are heading in the right direction.