11/23/2012 6:28 PM
Story By: Stuart McComish
HAMILTON, Ont. – Cedrick Desjardins might be squaring off against some familiar faces Sunday.
Desjardins still hadn’t heard Friday if he would be getting the call in goal for the Hamilton Bulldogs when they host the Lake Erie Monsters in American Hockey League action. Desjardins, who spent four seasons with the Bulldogs from 2006 to 2010, played 32 games last season with the Monsters, one of the Bulldogs’ North Division rivals, compiling a personal record of 16-11-5 with three shutouts, a 2.11 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.
“It will be much the same team as they had last season,” Desjardins said after the Bulldogs wrapped up practice at Copps Coliseum. “They have a lot of skilled guys. They have really good defence and those guys can produce a lot of offence too. They are tough to play against, they play a good system. They don’t give you many opportunities to score and they capitalize on their offensive chances.
“I had a great experience with them, the guys were great and terrific players too. The coaching staff was great with me too.”
Desjardins, 27, has made two starts since returning to action after suffering a groin injury in training camp. He made 23 saves in a 6-3 win over the visiting Toronto Marlies on November 16th and stopped 29 shots in a 2-1 road win over the St. John’s IceCaps on Wednesday night.
“It’s a battle and it’s never easy to be off the ice that long. But the coaches and trainers worked hard with me so I could get back to 100 percent. My game wasn’t perfect, but the result was there. I had been working hard off the ice to stay in shape. It wasn’t easy for me, but it was great to get those two wins.”
Desjardins’s win broke a four-game road losing skid and came one night after the Bulldogs had outshot the IceCaps 46-19 only to come out on the wrong end of a 3-1 decision.
“We might have deserved to win that first game in St. John’s more than we deserved to win the second one,” said Desjardins. “We doubled them in shots and chances, but it seemed like everything was going their way. But the next night they outshot us but we found a way to win a tight game. That was a good confidence builder for us. We need to get a winning attitude here, let’s hope that continues Sunday.”
Veteran netminder Robert Mayer has started 11 of the Bulldogs’ first 15 games. Desjardins said the team’s current goaltending tandem reminds him of 2009-2010 when he split time in goal with Curtis Sanford.
“Robert has been phenomenal. We want a good tandem. The last time I was here I was with Sanford and we went back and forth pushing each other. We just need to support each other, there will be some tough nights and we just have to make sure we bounce back from them. Robert has really helped me out by playing all those games to start the season. The best goalie is going to play and a solid tandem makes us a better team.”
Desjardins’s first two outings gave him his first look at the Bulldogs’ young blueline corps which features four 20-year-old rookies.
“They are young guys, but they are learning fast. They are hungry to get better and they feel they have something to prove. They are skilled and the best thing I can do is share my experience and help them. Everybody makes mistakes and the biggest thing you can do is learn from them and move on.”
Desjardins said he is awaiting the arrival of veteran defenceman Mike Commodore, who was signed to a professional tryout contract on Thursday. Commodore, 33, has played 484 games over 11 National Hockey League seasons with the New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I can’t wait to see him playing for us. I am sure he will be able to help us out in the room and on the ice and give us a lot of stability. You always want to have those stay at home defencemen.”
Game time Sunday is 4 p.m. The game will be the Bulldogs’ last home date until December 11th when the Monsters once again provide the opposition.