There’s a bit of a pep in the Windsor Spitfires’ step lately, and who can blame them? Riding a five-game winning streak, they went into last weekend full of confidence after receiving some national recognition. A trip up north didn’t hurt anything, and now they head home ready to take on November.
First place isn’t something any team should take for granted. In the OHL’s Western Conference, just five points separate the first playoff seed from the eighth. It’s cliche, but true – every game matters. The Spitfires rack up points, build the confidence, and see where the season takes them.
Last weekend, it took them up north, where they shocked the league and set themselves up for a fun upcoming weekend at home.
Great Northern Red Lights
Two weeks ago, the Spitfires beat the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 6-4 at home. On Saturday night, they headed up north for the rematch.
Playing up north has been a struggle for the Spitfires with just one win in their last eight games (overtime last season). Despite their current streak, and the Greyhounds losing four straight, this wasn’t a game to take lightly.
Coming off a loss to the Guelph Storm, the Greyhounds weren’t in the mood to play around. Tye Kartye grabbed the puck off a turnover in front of goaltender Kari Piiroinen and quickly gave his club the 1-0 lead.
The fun was short-lived as Spitfires’ forward Jean-Luc Foudy beat goaltender Christian Propp minutes later. He was followed by captain Luke Boka adding a pair and Daniel D’Amico adding a single, all before the period ended.
The Spitfires had a commanding 4-1 lead after 20. Would the intermission help the Greyhounds? No.
Boka completed the hat-trick just 48-seconds into the second period and he was followed by Foudy’s second and Cole Purboo. The Greyhounds got one of their own, but the rout was on with the Spitfires up 7-2 after 40.
Backup goaltender Ethan Taylor couldn’t save his club, either. Early in the third, a Greyhounds’ penalty led to a Connor Corcoran goal, giving the Spitfires an 8-2 lead. That’s when frustrations boiled over.
A blindside major by the Greyhounds’ Cole Mackay led to a one-sided fight with the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Curtis Douglas. Multiple misconducts were handed out shortly after, too.
After the dust settled, the Spitfires added two more goals for a 10-2 win. This was convincing; from timely goaltending to swift offence, there was little to frown upon.
For the curious, their next meeting is Nov. 21 in Windsor.
Home Sweet Home
The goal outburst marked the first time since 2013 that the Spitfires scored 10 on the road and the first time since 2008 they scored 10 on the Greyhounds. It was also the sixth straight game where they’ve scored at least four goals. That’s a tough task for any team.
Now, this first-place club gets ready for a pair of home games over the weekend.
On Saturday night, they welcome the North Bay Battalion to the WFCU Centre. The Battalion have won just once in nine road games and have lost seven straight overall. However, they grabbed a 4-3 overtime win last season in this matchup, so nothing can be taken for granted.
The Spitfires have a quick turn-around as they get ready for a 4:05 P.M. puck drop against Cole Perfetti and the Saginaw Spirit on Sunday.
Perfetti has 29 points in 17 games coming into the weekend and is one of the top prospects for the 2020 NHL Draft. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound center was chosen fifth overall in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection and has dazzled ever since.
The teams split last season’s series 4-4 and, with the Spirit just one point behind the Spitfires now, this game will have a playoff atmosphere.
It seems like anything the Spitfires’ touch turns to gold right now. That doesn’t mean anything can be taken lightly, though. Despite the Battalion and Spirit going in opposite directions, the approach has to be the same – assume both will bring their best game.
Being a CHL Top-10 Honourable Mention means the Spitfires’ expectations are higher. If they play 60-minutes, expect greatness. It won’t be easy but what’s the fun in that? This team is confident, cohesive, and smiling at their critics. You can’t blame them, either.
Game time on Saturday night is 7:05 P.M.
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.