Windsor Spitfires’ Notebook: National Teams and New Kids

While the summer of 2019 ramps up, there’s still plenty of hockey happening for the Windsor Spitfires. This week, three players were named to national teams while two more have joined the roster.

With the dust settled following the end of the season, Spitfires’ general manager Warren Rychel has been busy getting valuable work done. What started as two key signings last week has turned into much more. That’s on top of some national recognition, too.

The summer is just getting warmed up in the Rose City.

National Team’s Calling

Whether it’s for the Under-17s, the World Juniors, or anything in-between, getting the call to represent your country is an honour for any junior hockey player.

This week, three members of the Spitfires got the call from Hockey Canada to put on the red, white, and black as part of Team Canada this summer.

On Tuesday, Spitfires’ first-round pick Wyatt Johnston was invited to head to Calgary as part of Hockey Canada’s Under-17 Development Camp. It runs from July 19-26 in Calgary.

Wyatt Johnston Windsor Spitfires
Wyatt Johnston, Windsor Spitfires draftee (CHL Images)

The 5-foot-10, 155-pound Johnston will be one of 112 participants (12 goaltenders, 36 defencemen, and 64 forwards) involved in off-and-on-ice training, in-class studies, fitness, and more.

The World Under-17 Challenge takes place from November 2-9 in Medicine Hat and Swift Current.

Last season, Spitfires’ forwards Will Cuylle and Jean-Luc Foudy both took part in the event on Team Canada Black. They were eliminated by Team Sweden in the quarterfinals.

This season, Cuylle and Foudy will add another international notch to their sticks, too. On Wednesday, both were invited to Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team Selection Camp. It runs from July 26-30 in Calgary.

Cuylle Foudy Windsor Spitfires
Will Cuylle (13) and Jean-Luc Foudy (93) are headed to the Canadian Under-18 Selection Camp. (Dave Jewell/THW)

That camp will feature four goaltenders, 26 forwards, and 14 defencemen competing for a spot on Team Canada at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia. The tournament runs from August 5-10.

New Kids Looking to Hang Tough

Two weeks after signing Johnston and USHL forward Egor Afanasyev, Rychel has made two more splashes.

On Tuesday, he signed 2019 second-round pick Pasquale Zito. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound center scored 28 goals in 52 games for the Mississauga Rebels Minor Midgets in 2018-19.

Rychel told Blackburn News that Zito is a kid who has a great motor, can score, and has the potential to be a fan favourite.

“He’s a 200-foot player that can score and plays a physical brand of hockey,” said Rychel.

Following that, the Spitfires swung a deal with the Ottawa 67’s on Wednesday morning, bringing in 16-year-old forward Matthew Maggio.

In return, the 67’s get second-round picks in 2022 and 2023. The 2022 pick originally belonged to the Kingston Frontenacs while the 2023 pick was from the Kitchener Rangers.

Maggio, a Tecumseh-native, is 5-foot-10, 170-pounds and had four goals in 35 games for the 67’s last season. The 67’s fifth-round pick in 2018 was a part of Team Canada Red at the Under-17s last season.

Maggio told the Spitfires that it’s always been a dream of his to play for the team.

“I remember at the old Barn, my dad (Rob) bringing me to go watch the games,” he said.

“I remember seeing that Windsor Spitfires’ jersey and it’s always been a dream of mine … it’s going to be something special.”

With the new additions, Rychel has too many forwards on his roster and will likely make another deal or two before training camp in August. He is also working on the CHL Import Draft, which happens Thursday morning at 11 a.m. on the CHL website. The Spitfires have the 14th overall pick.

The OHL summer trade freeze begins Friday morning and lasts until early August.