NHL Future On Display During Spitfires Victory

Windsor's Jeremy Bracco had a big night against the Saint John Sea Dogs in the opening game of he 2017 Memorial Cup. Here Bracco (R) makes a nuisance of himself as Bokondji Imama (51), Bailey Webster (2), and goaltender Callum Booth try to corral the puck.Photo by John Skinner.

Windsor’s Jeremy Bracco had a big night against the Saint John Sea Dogs in the opening game of he 2017 Memorial Cup. Here Bracco (R) makes a nuisance of himself as Bokondji Imama (51), Bailey Webster (2), and goaltender Callum Booth try to corral the puck.
Photo by John Skinner.

(WINDSOR, ON) – The opening game of the 2017 Memorial Cup provided the announced 5,926 fans with much to cheer about. The Windsor Spitfires dispelled all doubt as they shook off over 6 weeks of non-playing time to defeat the Saint John Sea Dogs 3-2, last night at the WFCU Arena.

No less than 20 NHL draft picks participated last night, and it was Maple Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco who led the Spitfires through the evening’s action. Bracco assisted on Jeremiah Addison’s game-opening power play goal, along with Aaron Luchuk, and then put Windsor up 2-0 with his own tally, from Montreal’s Mikhail Sergachev, early in the 2nd period.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco (centre) is congratulated after scoring at 1:43 of the 2nd period to give Windsor a 2-0 lead over the Saint John Sea Dogs, on 19 May 2017. The Spitfires held on to win 3-2 in the opening game of the 2017 Memorial Cup.Photo by John Skinner.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco (centre) is congratulated after scoring at 1:43 of the 2nd period to give Windsor a 2-0 lead over the Saint John Sea Dogs, on 19 May 2017. The Spitfires held on to win 3-2 in the opening game of the 2017 Memorial Cup.
Photo by John Skinner.

The Sea Dogs showed why they won the QMJHL championships as they popped two behind Mike DiPietro, just 24 second apart, in the 3rd period to draw even with Windsor. Ottawa prospect Thomas Chabot brought Saint John to within one when Mathieu Joseph and Julien Gauthier set him up at 2:46. Then Simon Bourque and Jakub Zboril fed Black Hawk prospect Nathan Noel, with the man advantage, to level the score.

Saint John captain Spencer Smallman (18) and Windsor goaltender Mike DiPietro watch the bouncing puck during 2017 Memorial Cup opening game action on 19 May 2017.Photo by John Skinner.

Saint John captain Spencer Smallman (18) and Windsor goaltender Mike DiPietro watch the bouncing puck during 2017 Memorial Cup opening game action on 19 May 2017.
Photo by John Skinner.

Aaron Luchuk registered his 2nd point of the night when he received the puck from Sergachev and Adam Laishram and beat Callum Booth with the game winning goal at 15:12. Despite the Sea Dogs opting to pull Booth for the final 2:54, they couldn’t pull the trigger for the equalizer.

Aaron Luchuk (91) swings out to chase the puck as Nathan Noel (10) looks back at the action. Luchuk had an assist and scored the winning goal against the Sea Dogs as Windsor won 3-2 in the opening game of the 2017 Memorial Cup.Photo by John Skinner.

Aaron Luchuk (91) swings out to chase the puck as Nathan Noel (10) looks back at the action. Luchuk had an assist and scored the winning goal against the Sea Dogs as Windsor won 3-2 in the opening game of the 2017 Memorial Cup.
Photo by John Skinner.

Shots were even during the game. DiPietro kicked out 20-of-22 at the Windsor net for the win while Booth faced 23 at the opposite end of the rink.

In game 2, the OHL’s Erie Otters will face the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds today at 3:00pm. Windsor will be watching that game closely as they will challenge Seattle tomorrow at 7:00pm. Erie and Saint John will then meet Monday evening.

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About the Author

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