Zettler Anxious for First Win

By Jeremy Houghtaling

As he waits for his first win behind the Syracuse Crunch bench, Rob Zettler has gone through a range of emotions.

He’s excited and energetic, and comfortable yet anxious. Although his tenure has started with three straight losses, he knows it hasn’t stemmed from a lack of trying.

“These guys all want to win as much as I do,” Zettler said of his team. “I'm not worried about their effort. I'm not worried about how they played. We just have to find a way to get the W."

The dust has started to settle almost two weeks after the coaching shakeup throughout the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. With Jon Cooper promoted to Tampa Bay and Zettler becoming a head coach for the first time in his nearly decade-long coaching career, Martin Raymond came from the Lightning to be Zettler’s new assistant.

The two are still getting used to working with each other and hammering out the duties each will shoulder.

“Marty is a wealth of information. He's a smart guy and he brings a lot to the table,” said Zettler, who has more than 500 NHL games as a player to his credit. “Right now, we're bouncing ideas off each other, so it's a two-man show right now."

With the team in a four-way fight for first place in the AHL’s Eastern Conference, they know every point is important in the standings. Despite the small slide, Zettler believes his current record is more of an aberration than a sign of things to come.

"The guys have played hard," Zettler said. "We haven't given up much."

Syracuse held its opponents to eight goals in the past three games, three of which came in the third period against Norfolk Friday. The Crunch ended up losing the game, 5-4, in overtime.

“The only period I could say we did not play well in was the third period of the first Norfolk game,” Zettler said. “We just got a little sloppy. We got ahead of ourselves."

The Crunch didn’t give much up, but they also didn’t capitalize on the other end.

Syracuse, which had only been shut out in two of its previous 65 games, were blanked by Rochester Wednesday, 1-0, and Norfolk Saturday, 2-0. Overall they’ve been shut out in three of their past five games.

At practice, Zettler has focused on the team’s power play, which hasn’t converted since March 16 when it struck twice in a 6-2 win over Albany. In the past few games, the Crunch has hit some posts, but also passed up looks at an open net.

"The chances are there, we just haven't buried them," Zettler said.

With the Hershey Bears visiting the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday night, the Crunch have another chance to turn things around and get Zettler his first win.

"I'm anxious for it,” Zettler said of his first W. “But I've got to tell you, I'm happy with the effort.”