With the 2020 OHL Trade Deadline in the rearview mirror, the Windsor Spitfires can now re-focus on important business. Being near the top of the Western Conference standings after the trade deadline isn’t easy but it’s a welcomed challenge. Getting some good news never hurts, either.
General manager Bill Bowler was quiet during Friday’s deadline. He made no moves, showing confidence in his roster. As the team got into the post-deadline schedule, though, they found they’re still the hunted and the ice is getting smaller.
It’s not going to be an easy two months but that’s what makes it so good. Add on some NHL recognition and it’s hard to complain.
Spitfires’ Three-Point Weekend
On Thursday night, just prior to the Friday noon deadline, the Spitfires welcomed the Oshawa Generals to town. Hours earlier, the Generals made a blockbuster trade with the Niagara IceDogs, acquiring 18-year-old star Philip Tomasino for multiple draft picks. The deal quickly paid off.
While the Spitfires jumped out to a 3-1 lead, thanks to two goals from Dallas Stars’ prospect Curtis Douglas, Tomasino stole the show. The Nashville Predators’ prospect started off with three assists, then added two late goals for a five-point effort. When the dust settled, the Generals came away with a 6-3 win, despite being outshot 33-20.
Saturday night, the Spitfires looked for a rebound on the road against the Flint Firebirds in a Western Division showdown. The teams have gone toe-to-toe all season. This was no different.
The Firebirds jumped out to an early 3-1 lead. However, it didn’t last long. A late second-period goal, and an early third-period goal, tied it up for the Spitfires. Overtime was on the menu and perhaps rightfully so.
In the extra frame, on a Spitfires’ power play, Firebirds’ sniper Ty Dellandrea broke in shorthanded and beat goaltender Kari Piiroinen for the 4-3 win.
Wrapping up the weekend, the Spitfires made their way to Kitchener for a Sunday matinee with the surging Rangers.
This time, it was the Spitfires who jumped ahead 3-1. Like Saturday, though, the lead wasn’t safe. The Rangers scored three-straight to make it 4-3 in the third. However, the ending here was a bit different.
A nice individual effort by Douglas tied the game at four, forcing overtime. There, the Spitfires went on the power play and made no mistake. Egor Afanasyev wired home a shot to give the visitors the 5-4 win. That’s how you end a weekend!
NHL Eyes Are Watching
The three-point weekend gives the Spitfires sole possession of first place in the conference, a point up on both the Rangers and Saginaw Spirit, with two games-in-hand on each.
Now, the Spitfires get ready for a pair of home games this weekend. Saturday night they welcome the Erie Otters to town, while Sunday sees the Spirit for another gruelling afternoon tilt.
The team goes into the weekend with some good news in their pockets, too. On Monday afternoon, NHL Central Scouting released its mid-term prospects rankings and six Spitfires were on it.
Leading the way are forwards Jean-Luc Foudy and Will Cuylle, ranked 20th and 21st among North American skaters, respectively. Defenceman Ruben Rafkin is next at 72, followed by defencemen Dylan Robinson at 138 and Louka Henault at 201. Forward Kyle McDonald rounds out the list at 216.
Foudy and Cuylle have been considered first-round potential since they came into the OHL in April 2018. They were also “A”-rated players (first or second round) during the November rankings. Rakfin, Robinson, and McDonald were all “C”-rated players, putting them in the fifth, sixth, or seventh rounds. Henault is the new one to the group. Undrafted in 2019, he’s having a career season with 29 points in 39 games, up from 22 points in 66 games in 2018-19.
It gets better, too! On Thursday night, Foudy and Cuylle will get a chance to show their stuff as part of the Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in Hamilton.
They’re among 40 draft-eligible players from the CHL who will be divided into Team White and Team Red for the 25th annual game. Foudy will be on Team White while Cuylle, along with Spitfires’ Equipment Manager J.R. Grant, will be on Team Red.
The game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
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.