Home cooking may have been just what the Windsor Spitfires needed. Their stretch of seven-of-nine games at home is halfway done and, for the most part, it’s been a success.
After a road-heavy January, the Spitfires found themselves battling the ninth-place Erie Otters tooth-and-nail for that final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It’s not a position any team wants to be in, but the young Spitfires roster hasn’t given up hope. In fact, they’re giving teams a run for their money while enjoying some time at home.
North Invades the WFCU Centre
After a pair of wins at home just a week ago, the Spitfires welcomed the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and North Bay Battalion to the WFCU Centre this past Thursday and Saturday nights.
The Greyhounds are in a battle with the Saginaw Spirit for the second spot in the conference while the Battalion are in a log-jam in the East, just trying to get into the playoffs. Both the Greyhounds and Battalion had one thing in common against the Spitfires – a veteran taking control.
On Thursday night, Philadelphia Flyers prospect Morgan Frost scored the opening goal for the Greyhounds, as well as the game-winner in the third period. He added an assist later as the Greyhounds came back from a 2-1 deficit to beat the Spitfires 4-2.
The story was much of the same on Saturday against the Battalion. Their captain, veteran Justin Brazeau, came into the game with an OHL-leading 48 goals on the season. He scored the opening goal, then added his milestone 50th early in the third period to help the Battalion erase a 3-2 deficit.
Brazeau also assisted on the game-winner just six seconds into overtime, which gave the Battalion the 4-3 win. It was a new Battalion franchise record for quickest goal to start overtime.
Spitfires’ goaltender Colton Incze started both games and made 57 saves over the two games. While earning just one point wasn’t on the Spitfires’ agenda, they showed they can skate with two hungry clubs. Veteran Tyler Angle also added a pair of goals against the Battalion. They’re positives that must be focused on as the team heads into this weekend.
Finishing off the East
With just eight games left in the regular season, the Spitfires are preparing for another weekend at home, though there is a hiccup. On Thursday night, they welcome the Peterborough Petes to the WFCU Centre for their only appearance in Windsor this season. In October, Spitfires veteran Cole Purboo had two goals, but the Petes doubled up the Spitfires 4-2 in Peterborough. The Petes are in a log-jam in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Battalion for eighth with 57 points.
The Spitfires have won four of their last five at home against the Petes, though, with the lone exception being a 5-1 loss last season. Friday night, the Spitfires hop the bus and head up the 401 to Guelph for a date with the Storm. On Jan. 4, the Spitfires took a convincing 5-2 win in Guelph, but the Storm loaded up at the trade deadline a week later. The Storm sit in sole possession of fourth in the Western Conference.
— Windsor Spitfires (@SpitsHockey) January 5, 2019
Finally, the weekend wraps up with the Spitfires facing their final Eastern Conference opponents for the season. They welcome to the Kingston Frontenacs to the WFCU Centre on Sunday afternoon in the Frontenacs’ lone trip to Windsor this season. The Spitfires beat the Fronts 5-2 in Kingston in October.
The Frontenacs are in heavy rebuild mode after spending big last season to make a playoff run. It has put them in the race with the Flint Firebirds for the first-overall pick in the 2019 OHL Draft. The Frontenacs are up just one point on the Firebirds with each team having eight games left.
This isn’t a weekend the Spitfires can afford to take lightly. Savouring the home cooking is essential, especially if they want to be playing hockey beyond St Patrick’s Day.
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.