The Windsor Spitfires have begun their training camp in advance of the 2017-18 season. Still fresh, though, is the historic season in which the Spitfires captured the 2017 Memorial Cup. Throughout the 2016-17 season, fans were treated to moments that they won’t forget. Big goals, timely trades and defensive gems are engrained in the mind forever.
As the new season gets underway, let’s look back at the top five moments of the 2016-17 Spitfires’ season. Since winning the Memorial Cup would be the consensus top choice, it has been excluded from the list. It only seemed fair.
Top Five Moments in 2016-17:
5. Spitfires Acquire Jeremiah Addison
The season hadn’t even started when the Spitfires made a huge splash on the trade market. General manager Warren Rychel went out and acquired the 19-year-old sniper from Ottawa for conditional draft picks. After a 27-goal season for the 67s in 2015-16, the Montreal Canadiens prospect was a leader for the Spits with 24 goals and as co-captain with Jalen Chatfield. Addison saved his best for last with a Game 6 hat trick during the Memorial Cup which fans won’t soon forget.
4. Spitfires Acquire Adam Laishram
The Spitfires had depth issues in the first half of the season. Just before the January trade deadline, Rychel acquired the feisty forward from Hamilton. While the deal didn’t have the fanfare of the Addison trade, Laishram proved to be an unsung hero. His speed and aggression on the forecheck, combined with his elite-level penalty killing, created a player that the fans took to immediately.
It was almost the perfect recipe for Windsor and he proved to be a significant factor en route to the Memorial Cup. While Laishram doesn’t appear to be returning for a final season with the Spitfires, his tenacity and determination will never be forgotten.
3. Michael DiPietro Back-to-Back-to-Back Shutouts
The Spitfires had to endure a 13-game road trip before Christmas last season because of a swimming event at the WFCU Centre. The team had injuries and putting together a full lineup wasn’t easy on some nights. However, they had one constant: goaltender Michael DiPietro.
From December 8-11, the team hit central Ontario for games against the Barrie Colts, North Bay Battalion and Sudbury Wolves. The trip was tough but DiPietro was up to the task. Over three games, he made 64 straight saves to collect three straight shutouts for the Spitfires. What made it more interesting, was that all three home teams had their annual Teddy Bear Toss the night that they hosted the Spitfires. Fans were forced to toss the bears without the red light.
The three shutouts also helped DiPietro make his way into the Spitfires’ history books.
2. Spitfires Win Memorial Cup Opener
After a disappointing first-round exit to the London Knights, the Spitfires endured a tough 44-day layoff before the Memorial Cup and all eyes were on the opening game against the Saint John Sea Dogs to see if Windsor could keep up with the QMJHL champions.
The Spitfires jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead just five minutes into the contest. From there, they build up a 3-0 lead and held on for a 3-2 win. It was an emotionally draining game for everyone involved and it was almost a must-win game for Windsor. They had to get out to a good start in the tournament and they passed with flying colours.
1. Jeremiah Addison Memorial Cup Hat Trick
Addison was a Spitfire fan favourite with his offence and leadership. It came as no surprise that he saved his best performance for when they needed him most. In the final Memorial Cup round-robin game, the Spitfires (2-0) battled the Erie Otters (2-0) with the winner advancing straight to the final game.
Addison scored early in the first period to put the Spitfires up 1-0 then added a second one before the frame ended. The teams traded goals and it was a two-goal game with 10-minutes left in the third period. At 13:31 of the third, though, Addison took a pass from Julius Nattinen and put home the hat trick marker to send the Spits’ faithful into a frenzy.
While Erie added one before the game ended, Addison’s performance will go down in Spitfires history. A loss would have sent Windsor to the semi-final game against the Saint John Sea Dogs, but it could have also given the Otters that crucial mental edge. Instead, the Spitfires carried the momentum to a win in the final game and the title as 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup champions.
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.