The road to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Championship is down to a battle of the top seeds. The Western Conference Champion Windsor Spitfires are set to take on the Eastern Conference Champion Hamilton Bulldogs with the winner set to head East for Canadian junior hockey supremacy.
While the clubs didn’t face each other in the regular season because of COVID-19 scheduling changes, they went toe-to-toe in the standings. The Bulldogs made their conference look easy, winning 51 of 68 in the regular season and going 12-0 in the playoffs so far. The Spitfires showed incredible resiliency, earned the top spot in their conference, and have come together perfectly to create a force that’s tough to win against. This is going to be a series to remember.
Windsor Spitfires – 44-17-4-3 – 95 points – 1st Western Conference
Hamilton Bulldogs – 51-12-3-2 – 107 points – 1st Eastern Conference
Home and Away Records:
Spitfires – 25-7-1-1 (Home); 19-10-3-2 (Road)
Bulldogs – 27-4-1-2 (Home); 24-8-2-0 (Road)
Goals For and Goals Against:
Spitfires – 305-248
Bulldogs – 300-176
- Power Play – 26.1 percent (regular season), 13.9 percent (playoffs)
- Penalty Kill – 82.6 percent (regular season), 80.3 percent (playoffs).
- Power Play – 27.6 percent (regular season), 37.9 percent (playoffs)
- Penalty Kill – 80.9 percent (regular season), 87.0 percent (playoffs)
Leading Producers and Goaltending Stats
Top 3 Producers:
- 1. Wyatt Johnston – 68 games, 46 goals, 78 points, 124 points (led OHL)
- 2. Matthew Maggio – 66 games, 38 goals, 47 assists, 85 points
- 3. Will Cuylle – 59 games, 43 goals, 37 assists, 80 points
- 1. Logan Morrison – 60 games, 34 goals, 66 assists, 100 points
- 2. Avery Hayes – 66 games, 41 goals, 38 assists, 79 points
- 3. George Diaco – 68 games, 27 goals, 43 assists, 70 points
- Xavier Medina – 30 games, 18-8-1-2, .891 save percentage (SV%), 3.05 goals-against average (GAA)
- Mathias Onuska – 29 games, 19-5-1-1, .884 SV%, 3.31 GAA
- Marco Costantini – 45 games, 31-9-2-2, .917 SV%, 2.32 GAA
- Matteo Drobac – 23 games, 19-2-1-0, .905 SV%, 2.57 GAA
Playoff Stats and Clubs Journeys So Far
Top 3 Producers:
- 1. Wyatt Johnston – 18 games, 11 goals, 20 assists, 31 points
- 2. Will Cuylle – 18 games, 10 goals, 11 assists, 21 points
- 3. Daniel D’Amico – 18 games, 9 goals, 7 assists, 16 points
- 1. Logan Morrison – 12 games, 13 goals, 13 assists, 26 points
- 2. Avery Hayes – 9 games, 8 goals, 13 assists, 21 points
- 3. Mason McTavish – 12 games, 10 goals, 9 assists, 19 points
- Mathias Onuska – 16 games, 10-4-1, .904 SV%, 2.66 GAA
- Xavier Medina – 3 games, 2-1, .963 SV%, 1.03 GAA
- Marco Costantini – 12 games, 12-0, .933 SV%, 1.75 GAA
Clubs’ Playoffs Roads So Far:
- Round 1 – Def. #8 Sarnia Sting 4-2
- Round 2 – Def. #7 Kitchener Rangers 4-1
- Round 3 – Def. #3 Flint Firebirds 4-3
- Spitfires have outscored opponents 68-47.
- Round 1 – Def. #8 Peterborough Petes 4-0
- Round 2 – Def. #4 Mississauga Steelheads 4-0
- Round 3 – Def. #2 North Bay Battalion 4-0
- Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 60-21
Playoff History Between Clubs
This is the first postseason meeting between the clubs.
Spitfires’ Playoff Tidbit
This is the club’s first trip to the OHL Championship since 2009-10. In that playoff run, the defending Memorial Cup champions lost just three games before facing the Barrie Colts in the final, who had gone 12-1 themselves. While the Spitfires were technically the underdogs, 10 points behind (116-106), they eliminated the Colts with a four-game sweep.
The Spitfires went on to sweep the 2010 Memorial Cup, too, capturing back-to-back titles.
Bulldogs’ Playoff Tidbit
This is the club’s second go at the OHL Championship since their move from Belleville (then the Bulls) in 2015. In their first attempt in 2017-18, they went 12-3 before facing the 12-6 Soo Greyhounds, who were built to win it all.
While teams split the opening four games, the Bulldogs won Games 5 and 6 to capture their first league title. They had some success in the 2018 Memorial Cup, too, losing 4-2 in the semi-final to the Regina Pats.
What the Spitfires Bring to the OHL Championship
The Spitfires have had a slogan throughout the playoffs — “WE is greater than ME.” From the 2022 OHL Trade Deadline on, they’ve come together as a cohesive unit that can beat teams in a number of ways. The club features multiple NHL picks including Wyatt Johnston (Dallas Stars), Will Cuylle (New York Rangers), and Daniil Sobolev (Montreal Canadiens) who show up with force on a daily basis. The players have also bought into head coach Marc Savard’s systems and philosophy. They’ve become a family who goes to battle for each other and are enjoying every minute of this run to the title.
From Cuylle to free-agent fourth-liner Oliver Peer, everyone knows their role and contributes nightly. It makes them dangerous as opponents never know who will step up and have a big night. This is the Spitfires’ first trip to the OHL Championship since 2010 and, as long as they stick to their game plan, it’s going to be hard to knock them out.
What the Bulldogs Bring to the OHL Championship
The Bulldogs feature a veteran roster that includes Mason McTavish (Anaheim Ducks), Jan Mysak (Montreal Canadiens), Arber Xhekaj, and former Spitfires first-rounder Nathan Staios. That’s just the tip of their talent iceberg, too. No matter where you look in this lineup, it’s built to win big and win now.
From dynamic depth to rock-solid goaltending, they walked through the regular season and the playoffs virtually untouched. They haven’t lost since an overtime loss to the Sudbury Wolves on Mar. 25 and lost back-to-back games only a few times this season. They come into games expecting to win and, with a current 26-0-1 streak, they rarely come out on the wrong end. Their four-game sweep of the second-seeded North Bay Battalion (outscoring 22-6) shows just how lethal they are. Now, they’ve got a chance to duplicate the Spitfires’ 16-0 record from 1988. It won’t be easy, though.
What’s at Stake
The clubs will battle for the J. Ross Robertson Cup, named after former Ontario Hockey Association President John Ross Robertson, who donated it in 1910 following his tenure.
The winner of this series will represent the OHL at the 2022 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Memorial Cup in Saint John, NB. It runs from June 20-29 and features the winners of the OHL, the Western Hockey League (WHL), the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), and the host city, which are the Saint John Sea Dogs. The Sea Dogs lost 3-2 in the first round to the Rimouski Oceanique.
Currently, the WHL title is between the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Seattle Thunderbirds, while the QMJHL title is between the Charlottetown Islanders and the Shawinigan Cataractes.
This is the toughest decision yet. While the Bulldogs have the edge on defence and maybe in goal, the Spitfires have the edge up front. It’s the “an unstoppable force meets an immovable object” idea. Without having played each other during the regular season, it comes down to the little things and the mental game. While the Bulldogs are on a roll that will be tough to stop, the Spitfires have proven that they can win no matter what situation is thrown at them.
It would be easy to say the Bulldogs sweep this series and take a 16-0 record to Saint John. However, they haven’t faced a team like this before and, when the Spitfires’ backs are against the wall, they’ve proven to be untouchable. Let’s call for the upset and near 2010 repeat. Spitfires in 7
Game 1 – Fri., June 3 at Hamilton – 7:00 p.m.
Game 2 – Sun., June 5 at Hamilton – 2:00 p.m.
Game 3 – Mon., June 6 at Windsor – 7:00 p.m.
Game 4 – Fri., June 10 at Windsor – 7:00 p.m.
Game 5 – Sun., June 12 at Hamilton – 2:00 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 6 – Mon., June 13 at Windsor – 7:00 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7 – Wed., June 15 at Hamilton – 7:00 p.m. (if necessary)
Tickets for the games at the WFCU Centre in Windsor range from $27.90-$49.90 and can be found on the Spitfires’ website.
Tickets to games at the First Ontario Centre in Hamilton range from $25-$34 and are available on Ticketmaster via the Bulldogs’ site.
A nearly life-long resident of Windsor, ON, I graduated from St. Clair College (Journalism) and University of Windsor (Communications) and have attended Windsor Spitfires’ (and OHL) games for 30-years. My areas include multimedia journalism and photography.