The second round of the 2022 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) playoffs is finally set. After beating the eighth-seeded Sarnia Sting in the first round, ending an 11-year drought of not winning a playoff series, the top-seeded Windsor Spitfires now get ready to face another tough underdog – the seventh-seeded Kitchener Rangers.
Coming into the 2022 Playoffs, the Spitfires were clicking and eager to finally break their streak of not winning a series since 2011. They got a serious scare from a hungry Sting club but managed to put them away in six games. Now, head coach Marc Savard has to get the team prepared for an even bigger challenge. The Rangers upset the second-seeded London Knights in Game 7 on Wednesday night, showing they’re not ready to go home. So, get ready for a series that could go down in history.
Let’s get down to business!
Windsor Spitfires: 44-17-4-3 – 95 points – 1st Western Conference
Kitchener Rangers: 30-31-5-2 – 67 points – 7th Western Conference
Home & Away Records
Spitfires: 25-7-1-1 (Home); 19-10-3-2 (Road)
Rangers: 16-15-1-2 (Home); 14-16-4-0 (Road)
Goals-For and Goals-Against
Spitfires: 305 – 248
Rangers: 236 – 271
- Rangers outscored the Spitfires 33 – 30
Regular Season Leading Producers and Goaltender Stats
Top Three 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. Mike Petizia – 68 games, 34 goals, 37 assists, 71 points
- 2. Joseph Serpa – 62 games, 20 goals, 49 assists, 69 points
- 3. Francesco Pinelli – 55 games, 22 goals, 38 assists, 60 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
- Paval Cajan – 44 games, 21-18-2-2, .901 SV%, 3.61 GAA
- Jackson Parsons – 22 games, 9-10-2-0, .898 SV%, 3.77 GAA
Playoff Stats and the Clubs’ Journeys So Far
Top 3 Producers
- 1. Wyatt Johnston – 6 games, 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points
- 2. Will Cuylle – 6 games, 5 goals, 1 assist, 6 points
- 3. Ryan Abraham – 6 games, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points
- 1. Francesco Pinelli – 7 games, 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points
- 2. Joseph Serpa – 7 games, 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points
- 3. Reid Valade – 7 games, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points
- Mathias Onuska – 6 games, 4-1-1, .923 SV%, 1.64 GAA
- Paval Cajan – 5 games, 3-1, .917 SV%, 3.48 GAA
- Jackson Parsons – 3 games, 1-2, .940 SV%, 2.49 GAA
The Clubs’ Playoffs Roads So Far
- Round 1 – Beat 8. Sarnia Sting 4-2, outscoring 18-11
- Round 1 – Beat 2. London Knights 4-3, goals 23-23
What the Spitfires Bring to the Table
From top-to-bottom, this Spitfires club is proving to be one of the deepest in several seasons. While the top duo of Johnston and Cuylle have dominated since day one, all four lines can score on any given shift. Savard has them playing hard-nosed hockey that will grind and wear you down. If you manage to slow their offence, they’ll still excel in a defensive game with the red-hot Onuska, who was a rock in the crease.
While the Spitfires struggled against the Sting with the extra man at just 7.4 percent, that’s their only real blemish. If they can solve that (26.1 percent in the regular season says they can), this is a team with very few weaknesses. Whether it’s at home or on the road, they’re a very confident group, especially after a tough first round.
What the Rangers Bring to the Table
After knocking off the second-seeded Knights in overtime in Game 7 at the Budweiser Gardens in London, the Rangers are ready to show the league that they’re not a normal seven seed.
They come into this series with some impressive veteran depth led by Mike Petizian, Joseph Serpa, and Francesco Pinelli, not to mention one of the best goaltenders in the league in Paval Cajan. He has given the Spitfires fits all season, making acrobatic saves that most goaltenders wouldn’t come close to.
This is a club that refuses to quit and will make life tough for the Spitfires. They have the talent to do damage and, if they can play like they did in the first round, this is going to be a long series.
Playoff History Between the Spitfires and Rangers
Over the last 30-plus seasons, the playoff history between the Spitfires and Rangers isn’t plentiful but it’s still talked about to this day.
1988 – After winning 50 regular-season games (66-game schedule), the Spitfires beat the Rangers 4-0 in the first round, outscoring them 29-11. The club ended up sweeping the OHL Playoffs with their lone loss coming in the Memorial Cup Final.
1992 – A battle of four (Rangers) versus five (Spitfires) saw the favourites grab a 3-1 lead before taking the series in Game 7.
1999 – This wasn’t a playoff but a dramatic tiebreaker. On March 20, they faced off at the old Windsor Arena for a one-game showdown. Fittingly, the game went into double overtime where Blair Stayzer scored on Reg Bourcier for a 2-1 win, sending the Spitfires into the playoffs.
2010 – This may be the best series to date. The third-seeded Rangers jumped out to a shocking 3-0 lead over the top-seeded (and defending Memorial Cup champion) Spitfires. However, Game 3 was the last time the favourites lost all season. They won four straight, claiming the conference, another four straight for the league title, and finished up with an undefeated Memorial Cup.
2016 – The fourth-seeded Rangers grabbed a 3-0 lead on the fifth-seeded Spitfires and managed to close it out with a 5-2 win in Game 5.
These clubs haven’t faced each other much in the postseason but, when they do, the series are barnburners and worth the price of admission.
Like the 2010 series, expect this one to be a battle. The Spitfires have one of their deepest rosters since the 2009 and 2010 Memorial Cup championships and can play any style you want. They’ll grind out defensive wins or pepper your goaltender for 35-plus shots a game. As such, it’s not going to be easy to beat them four times. The Rangers will give it their best shot, though. With growing confidence following the Knights’ series and a goaltender who can steal them games, they’re not one to be taken lightly. They gave Savard’s club some serious competition during the regular season and that should continue into the playoffs. Spitfires in 6.
Series E: (1) Windsor Spitfires vs. (7) Kitchener Rangers
Game 1 – Sat., May 7 at Windsor – 7:05 p.m.
Game 2 – Sun., May 8 at Windsor – 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 – Tues., May 10 at Kitchener – 7:00 p.m.
Game 4 – Thurs., May 12 at Kitchener – 7:00 p.m.
Game 5 – Sat., May 14 at Windsor – 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 6 – Mon., May 16 at Kitchener – 7:00 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7 – Tues., May 17 at Windsor – 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
Tickets to games at the WFCU Centre in Windsor are available on the Spitfires’ website and range from $22.90 to $45.90.
Tickets for the games at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium are available on the Rangers’ site and range from $23.50 to $27.50.
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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.