Three months after hoisting the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup, the Windsor Spitfires are ready to hit the ice for a fresh start.
It’s been a busy off-season for the Spitfires as they have toured with the Memorial Cup throughout Windsor, Essex County and Ontario. The summer is about to come to an end, though, and that means OHL camps are close.
On Thursday afternoon, the Spitfires announced details of their 2017-18 Training Camp.
Returning players, including goaltender Michael DiPietro, will join a host of free agents and recent draftees at the WFCU Centre during the weekend of Aug 26-27 to check-in. Normally, the first on-ice scrimmage was held on the Tuesday after check-in. This year, though, it’s a bit different.
Hopefuls will hit the ice on Monday, Aug 28 and Tuesday, Aug 29 for full morning and afternoon practices and scrimmages. They are divided into three teams – blue, white and red. Tuesday afternoon’s rosters are “to be determined,” depending on roster cuts.
Wednesday, Aug 30 will see a morning scrimmage, followed later in the day by the annual Blue-White game. Details of this intra-squad match will be released closer to the date.
The training camp is free and open to the public.
Here are the specifics of the 2017-18 Training Camp Schedule:
Monday, Aug 28
9:00 am – 10:00 am: Team Blue practice
10: 15 am – 11:45 am: Team Red v. Team White scrimmage
2:15 pm – 3:15 pm: Team Red practice
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Team Blue v. Team White scrimmage
Tuesday, Aug 29
9:00 am – 10:00 am: Team White practice
10:15 am – 11:45 am: Team Red v. Team Blue scrimmage
2:15 pm – 3:15 pm: Practice (players TBD)
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Scrimmage (players TBD)
Wednesday, Aug 30
10:00 am: 4-on-4 scrimmage (players TBD)
Blue-White Game (details TBD)
Spitfires Head to Buffalo
Following their training camp, the Spitfires hit the 401 en route to Buffalo, NY to take part in the OHL Showcase Tournament from Sept 1-3.
The Harbor Centre will play host to the Spitfires, along with the Flint Firebirds, Erie Otters (host), Kitchener Rangers, North Bay Battalion and Peterborough Petes. Buffalo is the host of the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships.
The Spitfires open the tournament on Friday, Sept 1 with a 12:30 pm game against the Firebirds. Their second game is on Saturday, Sept 2 at 12:30 pm against the Battalion. Finally, they close it out with a game on Sunday, Sept 3 at 4:00 pm against the Petes.
Tickets for each game, plus weekend passes, are available here.
Following the Buffalo tournament, the Spitfires are off for a bit before wrapping up the pre-season with a home-and-home series against the Sarnia Sting. Sarnia travels to Windsor on Friday, Sept 14 while the Spitfires return the favour on Saturday, Sept 15.
Wide Open Camp
A year ago, the Spitfires knew they were going to be playing in May. This meant roster spots in camp were few-and-far between as veterans were the focus.
This year will be much different. With multiple graduates and trades, both offensively and defensively, there are several roster spots that are open for the taking. This could create the most competitive camp the team has seen in years.
The Spitfires drafted two Russian players in the 2017 CHL Import Draft earlier this summer. Combined with players from recent OHL Drafts, as well as free agents, and you’ve got dozens of players looking to make their mark.
Over the last four seasons, the Spitfires have had impressive success with free agents including Jalen Chatfield, Cristiano DiGiacinto, Mario Culina and Austin McEneny, who came from Quebec last year.
The memories of the 2017 Memorial Cup are fresh throughout the City of Windsor. As the players hit the ice for camp, though, it marks the start of a new season. A clean slate, if you will. The process to build another championship-caliber club gets underway. It’s one of the beauties of junior hockey.