(WINDSOR, ON) – The Windsor Spitfires last hosted the Memorial Cup in 1981 when the Cornwall Royals defeated the Kitchener Rangers at Windsor Arena. Much has changed since then.
After winning the Memorial Cup, Cornwall transferred to the OHL from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Later the team moved to Newmarket, and now makes its home in Sarnia as the Sting.
As well, no longer in use as a hockey rink, Windsor Arena was retired in 2008 as the home of the Spitfires when the WFCU Centre was constructed in the city’s east end. Once a venue for NHL hockey, The Barn now sits largely idle as fans trek to the Spitfires’ modern facility.
Though the Spitfires hosted the Memorial Cup in 1981, 10 years after being founded and five years after joining the OMJHL, later the OHL, it wasn’t until the team was sold by Steve Riolo in 2006 that the future brightened.
A group headed by former NHLers Bob Boughner and Warren Rychel purchased the Spitfires and initiated the move to a new arena. It wasn’t long before the team became competitive, winning its first Memorial Cup in the 2008-09 season followed closely by a second in 2009-10. Sandwiched in between, the Spitfires hosted the OHL’s All Star Classic game.
Yesterday, however, the OHL announced that the Windsor Spitfires would host the 2017 Memorial Cup. As the hosting team, the Spitfires would be allotted one of the four tournament slots with a chance to become the 10th team to have won the Cup as the host.