(WINDSOR, ON) – For the first time since the Spitfires opened the 2017 Memorial Cup by defeating Saint John Sea Dogs 3-2, there will be no hockey played at the WFCU Arena. Since that time the Spitfires have gone on to set back the Seattle Thunderhawks 7-1 and, last night, the OHL champion Erie Otters 4-2.
Having done so, the Spits have propelled themselves into the Cup finals and await tomorrow night’s winner between the Otters and the Sea Dogs. The battle of aquatic mammals will determine the team who will face Windsor for junior hockey supremacy Sunday at 7:00pm.
The route to this point for Windsor has been less than optimal, but perfect none-the-less. Leading the London Knights in the opening round best-of-seven series, the Spitfires allowed the series to get away from them and bowed down to the Knights. London, in turn, succumbed to the Otters in the next round, 4 games to 3.
Over the intervening six weeks, Windsor has been game idle, but hard at work completing 2-a-day practices. The time off also allowed them to regenerate injured players, being able to ice a healthy team for the first time this season.
“At the end of the day, our guys have been working hard,” Spitfires president Bob Boughner told The Square pre-series. “They’re in great shape and are rested and are ready to go.”
As a result, Jeremiah Addison, with a hat trick last night, sits in the middle of 4 Otters in Memorial Cup scoring, and second in +/-.
Windsor’s Mike DiPietro leads all goalkeepers with a 1.67 goals against average, less than half his nearest competitor, Callum Booth of the Sea Dogs. DiPietro has played more minutes than any other goaltender and faced more shots.
The Spitfires have also gotten solid offensive play from Jeremy Bracco and Gabe Vilardi; each with 5 points. Montreal Canadiens draft pick Mikhail Sergachev is tied for 2nd in scoring by defensemen with 3 points and has a +4 rating. Sergachev netted last night’s game winning goal.
In the meantime, Windsor awaits the outcome between Erie and Saint John. In their round-robin meeting, the Otters routed the Sea Dogs 12-5 in a penalty-filled affair. Saint John defenseman, and Boston Bruins prospect, Jakub Zboril received a roughing minor and game misconduct late in the 2nd period, but will be back tomorrow against the Otters.
It is now down to one game, but Windsor will have to wait for one more playoff. But they are used to that.