Hockey is almost here. On Friday afternoon, the Windsor Spitfires released their 2019-20 Training Camp schedule and it’s a bit different than previous seasons.
As the team prepares to take the next step in their journey to becoming an OHL contender, the 2019-20 training camp is important. It’s an opportunity for players to impress the new brass and show they’ve taken every possible step to improve their game.
Let’s take a look at the vitals of this season’s camp.
Training Camp Details
As mentioned earlier, this camp is a little different than they’ve had in almost any other season.
Normally, their camp would open on the last Monday in August with off-ice activities, followed by three teams competing over two days of scrimmages. Not this season, though.
Here’s how the schedule breaks down:
Tuesday, Aug. 27
The Spitfires will open their camp as 45 players come into the WFCU Center for off-ice activities such as fitness testing, weigh-ins, examinations, and more. This is not open to the public.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the players are divided into two teams for scrimmages and practices. All on-ice activities are open to the public.
Wednesday, Aug. 28
- 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Scrimmage
- 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Scrimmage
Thursday, Aug. 29
- 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. – Team Blue Practice
- 10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – Team White Practice
- 5:30 p.m. – Annual Blue-White Game in the Main Bowl
On Friday, the Spitfires finish camp with one more practice before hitting the road to start the exhibition schedule.
Excited for Exhibition
This season’s exhibition schedule is fairly straight-forward.
Unlike the last two seasons, the Spitfires will not participate in an exhibition tournament (Harbor Center OHL Showcase). Instead, they’ll play four games – two at home and two on the road.
Their first exhibition game will take place on Saturday, Aug. 31 in Fort Erie against the Niagara IceDogs. That’s a 7:00 p.m. start.
Following that, they’re off until Wednesday, Sept. 11 when they welcome the Flint Firebirds to the WFCU Centre. Game time is 7:00 p.m.
They wrap up the exhibition schedule with a home-and-home series against the Sarnia Sting on Friday, Sept 13 in Sarnia and Sunday, Sept. 15 in Windsor. Sunday’s game is at 2:00 p.m.
Once the exhibition is done, the team opens their 2019-20 schedule at home on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 7:05 p.m. against the Peterborough Petes.
Grabbing a Roster Spot
Last season, there were several opens spots at camp and six rookies made a lasting impression. Now, with the team having a year of experience under their belts, spots are at a premium.
That puts an even bigger target on the open spots, which not only creates an exciting camp for fans but also pushes the players that much more.
Players expected to be in camp include Nashville Predators prospect Egor Afanasyev, first-round pick Wyatt Johnston, 2020 NHL Draft prospects Will Cuylle and Jean-Luc Foudy, 2019 CHL Import goaltender Kari Piiroinen, Dallas Stars’ prospect Curtis Douglas, and many others.
The Spitfires also have a strong recent history of bringing in key free agents.
In 2013-14, Rychel brought in Hamilton-native Cristiano DiGiacinto. He went on to play in over 200 OHL games with 149 points to his record. After that, Rychel signed defenceman Jalen Chatfield (now in the Vancouver Canucks’ system), goaltender Mario Culina, and defenceman Austin McEneny, all in consecutive seasons.
This season should be no different as new GM Bill Bowler will likely want to put his stamp on the club.
After being swept by the London Knights in the first round in late March, the Spitfires are ready to take that next step in the development process. They’re focused, prepared, and after a busy off-season, as eager as ever to show what this club can do.
Tickets for all 2019-20 home games can be purchased on the Spitfires’ website.
I’m a resident of Windsor, ON and a graduate of St Clair College Journalism and New Media program as well as the University of Windsor Communication, Media, and Film program. I’ve been a junior hockey fan (specifically the Windsor Spitfires) for 30-years and have written about/photographed junior hockey since about 2005.