Utica, N.Y. - The newest PTO (professional tryout offer) for the Utica Comets is bringing a lot of hype with him, and it has as much to do off the ice as it does on it.
Colton Saucerman, a defenseman, was signed by the Comets on Monday to fill a void on the blue line left by injuries.
Due to his perfectly fitting hockey name and colossal red beard, the Colorado native is garnering a lot of attention on social media (A 'saucer pass' is a pass made to another player where the puck goes airborne inches off the ice, laying flat to mimic a flying saucer or frisbee before landing flat on the ice to a teammate, to avoid being intercepted by a defenseman).
Respected hockey outlets such as Barstool Sports (and their popular "Spittin' Chiclets" podcast), and Bardown, a division of TSN in Canada, have taken notice to the Comets' signing and have written articles based on the "ultimate hockey guy," within the last day.
"The phone was going off at the airport last night so I was reading some of it and it's pretty hilarious," said Saucerman. "So hopefully I can live up to the name and the beard."
In order to grow a beard of that magnitude, Saucerman preached time and patience.
"[It takes] about a year," he said. "I had to shave it last September, I went to Toronto Marlies camp and [Lou] Lamoriello was still there so they had the no facial hair policy so since then, beginning of October last year. So it takes about eight months to get the length and it's more just maintenance after that."
The 26-year-old blueliner not only sports the beard for aesthetics, but he said it also comes in handy on the ice.
"It's saved me from getting some stitches quite a few times actually," he said. "Pucks, sticks just seem to glance off of it, so it's saved me a lot of face work, so that's good."
While there are many benefits to having the full facial fescue, there are some limitations due to its presence on the chin of the newest Comet.
"[Eating] an ice cream cone is pretty tough, hamburgers, if I can get my mouth around it [it's fine]," he said. "Burgers, hot dogs, anything like that just is a mess."
Not only is his story blowing up on social media, but the beard has already impressed his new teammates and coaches here in Utica.
"That thing is a work of art," said Comets defenseman, Jaime Sifers. "If he shaved that I would cry and I met him today for the first time."
However, despite the suitable name and highly-regarded chin fur, Saucerman has merits on the ice that shouldn't be ignored.
In 22 games split between the Manchester Monarch and Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL this year, Saucerman has 12 points. Last season, he appeared in 12 games in the AHL with the Providence Bruins, Ontario Reign, and Springfield Thunderbirds, where he had five points and was a +9 rating. He also had 41 points in 57 games with the Monarchs in 2017-18.
"I just like high energy, I just try to be productive every shift I'm out there," Saucerman said. "I like to be physical, being a smaller guy I don't shy away from contact. I try to be offensive, jump in the play and get my shots through.
Definitely take care of my D-zone, that's first and foremost. I think just be energetic and I think you're going to notice me every shift I'm out there."
The man they call 'Sauce' (according to him, only his mother still calls him Colton) wants to make the most of his opportunity while he's here in Utica, however long that stint may be.
"It's just like all the other call-ups before, you get a good opportunity, it's unlucky guys are hurt, but I think it's kind of next man up and hopefully I can just step in and help us win a few games," he said. "It something else comes of that I'm happy with that too."
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