The pre-season process has been a busy one for the Windsor Spitfires. They wrapped up play on the weekend, named a captain and gave fans a little bit of help on game nights.
During the first weekend in September, the Spitfires took part in the OHL Showcase in Buffalo, NY. They were joined by the Flint Firebirds, North Bay Battalion, Kitchener Rangers, Erie Otters and Peterborough Petes.
The Spitfires got off to a strong start with a 4-3 win over the Firebirds to open the event. They followed that with a 4-3 win over the Battalion and a 4-1 win over the Petes. While pre-season games aren’t a great indication of how a team will do in the regular season, this was a big step for the Spitfires.
After losing numerous players to graduation following their 2017 Memorial Cup win, the team is in full rebuild mode. They have several players looking to earn a coveted spot on the roster and winning three-straight in Buffalo is a confidence boost.
They took that confidence into a home-and-home series with the Sarnia Sting on Sept 15 and 16 to finish the pre-season, which was Windsor’s only pre-season tilt at the WFCU Centre and their first game since winning the Memorial Cup.
The Return Home
In front of just under 4,000 fans, the Spitfires quickly got the jump on Sarnia. They grabbed a 3-0 lead after one thanks to a pair of goals from Aaron Luchuk and one from Matthew MacDougall. Joseph Mizzi and Igor Larionov added singles in the second frame to make it 5-0 Windsor after 40 minutes.
Sarnia added goals from Connor Schlichting and Hugo Leufvenius in the third, but it wasn’t enough. Spitfires goaltender Brock Baier made 26 saves over 60 minutes to help Windsor grab a 5-2 win.
One night later, Sarnia returned the favour. While the Spitfires had a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes, the Sting scored four goals in the third, including two into an empty net, to earn a 5-2 win in Sarnia. Lucas Patton took the loss for Windsor.
With the split, the Spitfires finish the pre-season with a 4-1 record. Offensively, they were led by Larionov’s five points in five games and Luchuk’s four points in two games. Also of note, was Baier’s save percentage, .926 in two games. He’s in a battle with Patton for the backup goaltender position.
After the games, the Spitfires released 19-year-old forward Louis Latta, who came into camp as a free agent. The former Sarnia Sting had one point in five pre-season games.
Leadership Group Named
Before the team started their home-and-home series, the Spitfires named their captain, along with one assistant.
Veteran forward Aaron Luchuk was given the “C” while veteran forward Luke Boka wears the lone “A”.
A fourth-round pick by Windsor in 2013, Luchuk has played 206 games for Windsor with 65 goals and 71 assists for 136 points. In 2016-17, he had 28 goals and 32 assists for 60 points. He also scored the game-winning goal in the 2017 Memorial Cup final against the Erie Otters. Luchuk is one of three over-age players on the team this season.
Boka, 18, was Windsor’s fifth-round pick in 2015 and has become a fan favourite for his gritty play and timely offence. In 2016-17, Boka broke out with 13 goals and 15 assists for 28 points after four points in 2015-16.
Luchuk takes over from graduating veterans Jalen Chatfield and Jeremiah Addison, who were named co-captains of the Spitfires late last season.
Free Parking Added
On Monday morning, the Spitfires announced that they have added 900 free parking spots to the WFCU Centre grounds. The spots are located west of the main bowl in the overflow lot known as the “Lear Lot.” The entrance is off Lauzon Road. The addition brings the total number of free spots at the arena to 1,800 and fans can use the extended lot during the Spitfires’ home opener on Thursday, Sept 21 when they battle the Saginaw Spirit.
There will also be opening night festivities outside of the box office starting at 5:15 p.m. Food, drinks, face painting, pictures with the Memorial Cup and much more will be available for all ages. Tickets for the opener can be purchased at the box office or 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.