Spitfires Win Despite League Troubles

Cole Purboo (26) and Connor Corcoran (8) team up on London's Robert Thomas (27) as Brandon Crawley (14) looks for an escape route on 28 March 2017. Windsor skated to a 3-1 victory and 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.Photo by John Skinner.

Cole Purboo (26) and Connor Corcoran (8) team up on London’s Robert Thomas (27) as Brandon Crawley (14) looks for an escape route on 28 March 2017. Windsor skated to a 3-1 victory and 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.
Photo by John Skinner.

(WINDSOR, ON) – Windsor took a 2-to-1 lead, in the best-of-seven opening round playoff series, over the London Knights with a 3-1 win last night at home. Deviating from the previous games, Windsor opened the scoring and never looked back the rest of the outing.

Jalen Chatfield and Sean Day set up Julius Nattinen for the game’s opening tally, scoring at 12:25 of the 1st period while London’s Cole Tymkin was in the Sin Bin for tripping. The goal was the second-year Finnish player’s first of the playoffs after potting 13 during the regular season.

JJ Piccinich (84) leaves his feet to lay into Windsor's Julius Nattinen during Game 3 on 28 March 2017. The tactic failed as Nattinen scored the first of three Spitfires goals in a 3-1 victory over London.Photo by John Skinner.

JJ Piccinich (84) leaves his feet to lay into Windsor’s Julius Nattinen during Game 3 on 28 March 2017. The tactic failed as Nattinen scored the first of three Spitfires goals in a 3-1 victory over London.
Photo by John Skinner.

Nattinen’s strike held up for the rest of the period, until fellow Finn Janne Kuokkanen tied the score early in the middle frame. The stalemate was short-lived as Gabe Vilardi sent Windsor ahead to stay with an unassisted notch at 6:15.

Day picked up his 2nd assist of the night when he fed the puck to Cristiano DiGiacinto six minutes later for the insurance goal.

Mike DiPietro had the start in goal for the Spitfires and faced just 16 shots all night. Likewise, Windsor managed to fire just 18 toward Tyler Parsons in the London net.

Windsor's Cristiano DiGiacinto (96) bothers Tyler Parsons in front of the London goal on 28 March 2017. DiGiacinto tallied Windsor's insurance goal in a 3-1 Spitfires victory.Photo by John Skinner.

Windsor’s Cristiano DiGiacinto (96) bothers Tyler Parsons in front of the London goal on 28 March 2017. DiGiacinto tallied Windsor’s insurance goal in a 3-1 Spitfires victory.
Photo by John Skinner.

Windsor was without star forward, and co-captain, Jeremiah Addison for last night’s game. The winger was suspended for 2 games after a cross-check on London’s Max Jones. Addison received a 5-minute major and 2 minutes for high-sticking on the play, along with a game misconduct. Jones received a slashing minor.

“[Addison] comes a distance and uses his stick in a most inappropriate fashion to cross-check an opponent,” OHL vice-president Ted Baker said on Monday. “We felt it was inappropriate and warranted a two-game suspension. Fortunately, there was no injury on the play.”

Addison will sit out Thursday’s match in Windsor to complete the suspension, and will return for Game 5 on Friday at London.

The London Knights were bloodied, battered, and bruised after Game 3 against the Windsor Spitfires on 28 March 2017. Robert Thomas skates to the Knights bench for some medical attention after catching a stick in the 3rd period.Photo by John Skinner.

The London Knights were bloodied, battered, and bruised after Game 3 against the Windsor Spitfires on 28 March 2017. Robert Thomas skates to the Knights bench for some medical attention after catching a stick in the 3rd period.
Photo by John Skinner.

Additionally, the league is looking at a situation involving the Spitfires and stemming from the same game. The OHL contends that comments made by head coach Rocky Thompson were questionable.

“It is the position of the League that the post-game media comments made by Windsor Spitfires Head Coach Rocky Thompson were most inappropriate and detrimental to the welfare of the League,” Paul Krotz, the OHL’s director of communications, said in a prepared statement. “As a result of his comments, and the Spitfires Twitter post including such comments which is not consistent with the League’s Social Media Policy, the Windsor Spitfires Hockey Club is fined $7,500.”

“There’s certain things in hockey that the NHL is trying to get rid of. For example hooking, holding and obstruction, they don’t want. That’s exactly what London was doing to us all night. And the refs chose not to call it; that’s fine.

The other thing the NHL is trying to get rid of is diving. Any time there was the slightest amount of contact with the London Knights, they dove. And they got rewarded for it. And a national audience (on Sportsnet) saw it. That’s disrespectful to the game.

And that’s why the NHL is trying to get rid of this.

They’re finding these players after the fact; they get put on a watch list. We talked about this at the start of the year at the OHL meetings with the head coaches, etc., because you’re getting rewarded for situations that you’re trying to get rid of in the game. You should have to earn what you get, not have to act and be rewarded as a result of it.

And that’s what happened here tonight.” – Rocky Thompson

Windsor's Cristiano DiGiacinto (96) bothers Tyler Parsons in front of the London goal on 28 March 2017. DiGiacinto tallied Windsor's insurance goal in a 3-1 Spitfires victory.Photo by John Skinner.

Windsor’s Cristiano DiGiacinto (96) bothers Tyler Parsons in front of the London goal on 28 March 2017. DiGiacinto tallied Windsor’s insurance goal in a 3-1 Spitfires victory.
Photo by John Skinner.

Furthermore, the league has also sanctioned Spitfires GM Warren Rychel for his conduct with Sunday’s refereeing contingent of Scott Oakman, Mike Cairns, Jean-Francois Menard, and Geoff Rutherford.

“Windsor Spitfires General Manager Warren Rychel has been sanctioned by the League for certain actions including violating League policy concerning interaction with on-ice officials before, during, and after the game,” Krotz said. “The League reserves finalizing any further disciplinary action against Mr Rychel and the Spitfires pending a hearing to be held on Friday, March 31, 2017.”

Both Rychel and Thompson cannot comment ahead of the meeting with the league.

“Prior to this announcement, we had been awaiting contact from the league in relation to what we perceive as outstanding issues related to the circumstances surrounding Sunday’s game in London,” Rychel said. “Until I get to sit down with representatives from the OHL, we simply don’t have enough information to make a comment.”

– with files from John Skinner.

Windsor goaltender Mike DiPietro gets in the zone prior to Game 3 against the London Knights on 28 March 2017.Photo by John Skinner.

Windsor goaltender Mike DiPietro gets in the zone prior to Game 3 against the London Knights on 28 March 2017.
Photo by John Skinner.

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Ian Shalapata
Ian writes for and provides imagery to Square Media Group as well as accepting freelance photographic assignments. In addition, he has contributed to media organizations, sporting groups, and individuals across North America including the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Chatham-Kent Sports Network, the Golf Association of Michigan, League 1 Ontario, as well as numerous colleges and universities in Canada and the United States. Email Ian Shalapata