Desjardins making the saves

Rimouski Oceanic's Sidney Crosby gives congrats to goalie Cedrick Desjardins after winning 4-3 at...

Rimouski Oceanic's Sidney Crosby gives congrats to goalie Cedrick Desjardins after winning 4-3 at the Memorial Cup in London, Ont. Wednesday, May 25, 2005. (London Free Press/Dave Chidley)

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

He might be known in London as the goalie who knocks his net off its moorings when the heat's on, but you can't knock the performance of Rimouski Oceanic's Cedrick Desjardins under the bright lights of this Memorial Cup.

The second-most animated figure at the John Labatt Centre this week -- fired-up Rimouski coach Doris Labonte's passionate pleas to the referees are worth the price of a ticket package -- "Cedrick the Entertainer" has seen more rubber than an overworked tire salesman in the offensively gifted Oceanic's first three games.

The 19-year-old stopped 44 of 48 shots in an opening night 4-3 overtime loss to London. He kicked aside 48 in a 4-3 win over Ottawa on Tuesday and held the fort with 44 saves in a 4-3 victory Wednesday that eliminated the defending champion Kelowna Rockets.

"I'm happy with the way it's been so far. I feel more comfortable as we're going along," the six-foot-one, 192-pounder from Edmundston, N.B., said. "But I'm used to 30 shots a game in our league and I don't think we can keep winning by giving up 50 shots here. We have to tighten up a little bit and get more scoring than just our first line, I think, to win this tournament."

First impressions can be tough to shake and Desjardins had a dreadful one against London. He flinched badly while being beaten on a high shot at a terrible angle by low-scoring defenceman Marc Methot three minutes into his Cup debut.

That image, plus being run over twice by Dan Fritsche, overshadowed Desjardins' fine work in the third period and into overtime as he made strong saves to put off, rather than deny, a Knights' win.

In Game 2, he outduelled Ottawa's Danny Battochio, who had grabbed the headlines with his record 62-save performance in his first game.

"That was a big win because we had heard a lot about him (Battochio) and saw all the saves he made in his first game," Desjardins said. "I knew I had to play well in that one."

Against Kelowna, Desjardins wasn't given one of the three stars even though his team was outshot 20-7 in the third period.

The Oceanic couldn't have protected a three-goal lead any worse. They allowed a goal on a defensive breakdown early in the period, then gave Kelowna life on the power play and even surrendered a clear-cut breakaway to Blake Comeau, who lost control of the puck.

In that last 20 minutes against the Rockets, the Oceanic were hanging from a cliff and Desjardins was their dependable branch, the only thing keeping them from a fall.

"He may allow a goal, two goals, but he won't allow that tying goal," Rimouski defenceman Mario Scalzo Jr. said. "That is important for a goalie. That's what you need from him when it's like that. He has confidence right now."

It wasn't always that way. Just two seasons ago, Desjardins was a member of a terrible Rimouski team that finished last in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The young netminder had a 1-19 record with a 5.28 goals-against average and a save percentage of .870.

That forgettable season let the Oceanic pick first in the draft and they immediately turned their fortunes around by selecting Sidney Crosby.

This season, Desjardins had a 30-7-4-2 record and a 2.95 goals-against average. He was solid in the playoffs and has remained so in the quest for the Memorial Cup.

"We didn't play our best game against London. We know we can do better than that," he said. "If we get the opportunity to play them again, we know it's going to probably come down to one goal, one big save."

Desjardins can make that big save. He's proven that this week.


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