Windsor Spitfires’ Notebook: U17, Canada-Russia, Veteran Leaves

As the Windsor Spitfires prepare for their weekend games, they’re also busy with action off the ice. Three members of the Spitfires have been named to CHL events while a fourth Spitfire has said goodbye to the team.

November is right around the corner which means the CHL is preparing for their annual nation-wide showcases. Both the Under-17 Challenge and the Canada-Russia Series are ready to go soon and the Spitfires will be represented at both.

Spitfires Head to New Brunswick

Each season, the World Under-17 Challenge sees dozens of young hopefuls do their best to show the world what they can do. On Tuesday afternoon, Hockey Canada announced its 66-player roster for this season’s event, which is held in Saint John and Quispamsis, NB from Nov. 3-10.

Spitfires’ rookie forwards Will Cuylle and Jean-Luc Foudy are both a part of the roster. The five-foot-10 168-pound Foudy was the Spitfires’ first-round pick in 2018, selected 10th overall. In 10 games for the Spitfires, he’s tied for third in rookie scoring with one goal and nine points.

The six-foot-two, 205-pound Cuylle was drafted third overall in 2018 by the Peterborough Petes. He didn’t report to the club’s training camp, though, and was traded to the Spitfires in August for several picks. In 10 games, he has two goals and six points. Both Cuylle and Foudy are big pieces in the Spitfires’ rebuild that started last December.

Will Cuylle Windsor Spitfires
Will Cuylle (13) celebrates his first OHL goal for the Windsor Spitfires (Dave Jewell/THW)

The 66-player roster will be divided into three teams – Canada Red, Canada Black and Canada White – and will face-off against teams from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

NHL stars Marc-Andre Fleury (2003), Aaron Ekblad (2014) and Connor McDavid (2015) have all dressed for Canada in years past. In 2012, the tournament was held in Windsor, LaSalle and Tecumseh and Team Russia defeated Team USA 7-4 in the Gold Medal game before 4,191 fans.

In 2017, Canada Red won the silver medal, losing 6-4 to the USA.

DiPietro to Face Russia

On Wednesday afternoon, the OHL, CHL and Hockey Canada announced the Ontario rosters for the Canada-Russia Series. The series is a six-game event that takes place each year across Canada; two games in the WHL, two in the OHL and two in the QMJHL.

The two Ontario games are Game 3 and Game 4 of the series and will be held on Thurs., Nov. 8 in Sarnia and Mon., Nov. 12 in Oshawa.

Spitfires’ goaltender Michael DiPietro will dress in Sarnia for Game 3 alongside Kitchener Rangers’ goaltender Luke Richardson. This season, DiPietro has a 3-2 record with a 3.01 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage.

Michael DiPietro Windsor Spitfires
Michael DiPietro Windsor Spitfires (Dave Jewell/THW)

The rosters were compiled by a group that included Owen Sound Attack general manager Dale DeGray, Ottawa 67s general manager James Boyd, Hockey Canada head scout Brad McEwen and Hockey Canada Program of Excellence National Junior Team manager Steve Staios (of the Hamilton Bulldogs).

This is a golden time for DiPietro to show that he’s ready for the 2019 World Juniors in Vancouver and Victoria, BC in December. Last season, DiPietro represented the OHL and came away with a 2.00 GAA, .920% and a win. DiPietro was also one of the last cuts for Team Canada at the 2018 World Juniors in Buffalo. However, he gained some experience by going to Denmark to practice with Team Canada during the 2018 World Hockey Championships in May.

Larionov Leaves Spitfires

While three members of the Spitfires were named to national rosters, a fourth player has created a new hole in the Spitfires’ roster. Veteran forward Igor Larionov has left the team to finish his junior career off in the USA.

Windsor Spitfires Igor Larionov
Igor Larionov is off to the USA. (Dave Jewell/THW )

Larionov, 20, had two assists in eight games for the Spitfires this season. The son of former NHL great Igor Larionov, the young Larionov came to the Spitfires as a free agent during the 2017-18 training camp out of the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. In 2017-18, the six-foot 175-pound winger battled injuries from the start but still tallied 23 points in 32 games. When healthy, he was known as a crafty, intelligent playmaker who could find the seams like few others.

With Larionov’s departure, the Spitfires now have 13 forwards on the roster and an opening for a third overage player (Luke Kutkevicius and Sean Allen occupy the other overage spots).

The Spitfires are off to St. Catharine’s on Friday to take on the Niagara Ice Dogs before traveling to Erie on Sunday for a game against the Otters. Cuylle, Foudy, DiPietro and the rest of the Spitfires pulled out a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Barrie Colts Thursday night at the WFCU Centre. Their next home game is next Thursday when the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds come to Windsor.