I want to be like Pat

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

If you're going to be a copycat, why not copy the best? Philippe Sauve, like every other French Canadian goaltender of his generation, adopted the butterfly style made popular by Patrick Roy.

Sauve, the front-runner to land the backup role with the Flames behind Miikka Kiprusoff this season, said he watched St. Patrick every chance he got.

"Growing up in Quebec, I think every young goalie idolized him and I was certainly among them," Sauve said of the NHL's all-time winningest 'tender.

Sauve, who was selected in the second round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, got a chance to watch Roy up close and personal, starting with his first Avs training camp that fall.

"Just the way he got stuff done, his attitude, that's what I admired," said Sauve. "I got to see a little bit of it when I was a black ace with Colorado when they won their last Stanley Cup. That was real special.

"And I went to three or four training camps when he was there. He was very good to me.

"We did a lot of goalie drills and I was watching him with my eyes really wide open. I tried to take in as much as I could."

Before Roy, there was another goaltender the 25-year-old learned a thing or two from over the years.

His dad, Bob, chalked up 182 wins with four clubs, including the Buffalo Sabres, a team with which he won the Vezina Trophy in 1979-80.

Acquired earlier this month from the Avs for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, Sauve says he can recall bits and pieces of his father's career, which spanned from 1976 to 1989.

"I remember the house we lived in at Buffalo," he said. "I went to weekend games, not on school nights. As far as him playing, I remember a little bit but it's mostly the cities we were in and stuff like that.

"It was a great experience, getting to travel like that. Being able to live that kind of life is something I'll never forget."

Having a former NHL puckstopper for a dad has its advantages.

"He's my dad first," he said. "If you're going through a tough time or you have some things that are bothering you, I have somebody to talk to because he's been in those situations before and he can guide you through it.

After spending three years in the AHL with the Hershey Bears, Sauve finally cracked the Avs roster in 2003-04 when he played 17 games behind starter David Aebischer.

But just as his career was beginning to take off, it was grounded by the NHL lockout.

"That was tough," he says.

"I was really looking forward to the year but unfortunately, we weren't able to play.

"I stayed busy at home and skated with Concordia University in Montreal."

Then, after the Christmas break, he got a call from an ex-teammate, who was an assistant coach in the ECHL with the Mississippi Sea Wolves.

"He called me up and asked me what I was doing," he recalled. "Obviously, I wasn't doing much and I was drooling to play. So I went down there and had some fun. It was a good experience.

"Things started off slowly after being off for a few months. But after that, it went pretty good.

"We had a pretty good team and I got to play a lot."

Sauve posted a 13-4-4 record over the last half of the ECHL season as he worked to stay in shape for a 2005 training camp.

The trade bringing him to the Stampede City has the 6-ft. 175-pounder feeling excited about getting started -- especially with a vacant spot open behind Kiprusoff.

Sauve will compete against Calgary native Curtis McElhinney and Flames 2000 first-rounder and former Calgary Hitmen backstop Brent Krahn and for the backup slot.

"I'm really looking forward to getting on the ice there," he says. "I think I'll be getting in there early. Hopefully I can meet the guys and get all my stuff in there.

"I'm excited for the challenge that's coming up. It's a good opportunity for me.

"I just want to grab every opportunity that's out there."


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