Niwot, Colorado product Michael Sdao has been toiling in relative anonymity for the last two years, playing for an injury-decimated Princeton team last year that is only now beginning to pick itself off the mat.
The 21-year-old blue-liner, drafted in the seventh round (191 overall) of the 2009 Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators, played in 30 of 31 games for the Tigers last year as a true freshman (Ivy League schools don't allow red-shirting anyhow), scoring five goals and nine points and accumulating 24 penalties for 48 PIM. Sdao proved himself as a tough, durable, and reliable force on Princeton's back end, but this year he is showing flashes of much, much more.
"He can really shoot the puck, and he's in even better shape: he's definitely stronger, he's definitely quicker, and he's as focused on becoming the best hockey player as he can possibly be," said his head coach, Guy Gadowsky. "I won't say he's changing - he's still going to be a tough, hard-nosed defenceman - but he can definitely shoot the puck."
The ability has equated to production, as Sdao already has two of Princeton's nine goals through four games, including a game-winning power-play goal at Brown Saturday night.
Listed at 6'4" and 220 lbs, Sdao's drive and focus are what have really thrilled Gadowsky. "I tell you what, he's gonna develop to his maximum, that we know. He doesn't leave any stone unturned in preparing himself and getting better. He has an incredible work ethic and takes his development very seriously. We were thrilled with him last year, and for all the work he's done this summer, I think he's even taken another step."
For those in the Ottawa area, Sdao will play against fellow Sens defensive prospect Mark Borowiecki in a January 29 contest at Clarkson's Cheel Arena in Potsdam, N.Y.