Zettler in No Rush to Name No. 1

By Jeremy Houghtaling

A little more than 24 hours before the puck drops on a new season, Syracuse Crunch Head Coach Rob Zettler still didn't know who was going to start between the pipes.

With no clear-cut No. 1 starter heading into Saturday's contest at Binghamton, Zettler is going to start the season by platooning netminders Cedrick Desjardins and Riku Helenius.

"They'll likely get equal time early on, and then we'll see where it goes," Zettler said.

The two candidates have more than 280 games and a dozen professional seasons between them, so Zettler has time to let it pan out.

Desjardins, who played in all 18 playoff games, backstopped the Crunch to the Calder Cup Finals last season.

After coming to Syracuse in a midseason trade for fellow goalie Dustin Tokarski, Desjardins posted a 2.12 GAA and .918 save percentage in 14 regular season games. In the playoffs, he remained steady with a 2.30 GAA and .908 save percentage.

"We were just a couple games away (from winning the Cup), so you try to build on that," Desjardins said.

"He sets a good example and he works hard every day," Helenius said of his teammate. "It's a really good relationship challenging each other. It's a healthy competition."

Helenius, who battled with Tokarski and then Desjardins for playing time most of last season, left the team to attend to personal matters in Finland in April. He returned near the end of the Calder Cup playoffs, but did not see game action.

Nearly six months after his last AHL start, Helenius is excited to get back between the pipes.

"It's been a short summer, but at the same time, at least for me, I've just been waiting for the games to start," Helenius said.

In 32 games last season, Helenius finished with a .900 save percentage and a 2.57 GAA.

Both Helenius and Desjardins will see equal time at the beginning, but know that they can take the No. 1 spot if they outplay the other.

"They're friends, but they also know it's a competition," Zettler said. "Whoever is playing well is going to get the majority of the net. That's the way it goes."

Pictured: Cedrick Desjardins