(WINDSOR, ON) – The Windsor Spitfires are behind the 8-ball after dropping the first two playoff games of the opening round against the Kitchener Rangers. Now the OHL has hampered Windsor’s chances of surviving the series by announcing the suspension of Brendan Lemieux for two games.
Holding the regular season advantage over the Rangers 3-1, on March 24 the Spitfires travelled to Kitchener to play the first two games of the OHL preliminary round. They dropped Game 1 by a score of 6-5 in overtime.
Windsor led 3-2 after a penalty-filled first 20 minutes. Aaron Luchuk scored the first of three straight Windsor goals, at 4:38. He was followed by tallies from Christian Fischer and Jalen Chatfield before he Rangers netted two, both on the power play, before the buzzer.
Twenty-six seconds after Kitchener’s second goal, Lemieux received a game misconduct for a slewfoot on Rangers defenceman Frank Hora.
Kitchener scored twice more, including another penalty marker, before Logan Stanley tied the game at 4 apiece, on an unassisted goal, with less than a minute thirty left in the 2nd period.
The teams exchanged goals in the 3rd stanza with Kitchener finding the twine before 4 minutes had elapsed and Bradley Latour staving off defeat at 15:02. It took the Rangers just 2:39 into the 1st overtime period to notch a first win in the best-of seven series.
Prior to Game 2, the League reviewed the incident between Lemieux and Hora and decided to suspend the Windsor forward for two games. In a statement released by the OHL, “The incident reviewed was a slew foot match penalty assessed to player Brendan Lemieux of the Windsor Spitfires Hockey Club. Based on such review, it is the position of the League that player Brendan Lemieux shall be suspended for two (2) games effective immediately.”
As a result, Lemieux missed Game 2, again in Kitchener, another loss. This time the Rangers prevailed 6-4, with both teams playing neck-to-neck until Kitchener broke it open in the 3rd.
Kitchener opened the scoring late in the 1st, but Mikhail Sergachev quickly replied for Windsor, closing out the frame tied at 1. Chatfield and Mads Eller put Windsor into a 2-goal lead before the 5-minute mark in the 2nd, but the Rangers used the remaining time to draw even again, by 14:55.
The Rangers then built their own 2-goal lead before Sergachev got the Spits within one. However, a late insurance goal sealed the win for Kitchener.
The teams now take to the ice for Game 3 tonight in Windsor. Game time is 7:05pm. The Spitfires will be without Lemieux this evening as he completes his suspension. The Rangers will return to Windsor Wednesday evening for Game 4 in the series.