Sarnia ends Spitfires playoff run

Todd Shearon
By Todd Shearon April 7, 2018 10:01

The Windsor Spitfires salute to WFCU Centre crowd after being eliminated from the 2018 playoffs in game six by the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Todd Shearon.

By Todd Shearon

Windsor’s back-to-back Memorial Cup hopes were shot down on Easter.

The defending 2017 Memorial Cup champions were eliminated in the first round of the OHL playoffs last Sunday losing 5-2 to the Sarnia Sting.

Sarnia took advantage of Windsor’s injured goaltender scoring two goals in the first six minutes of play, putting up 32 shots in the game.

Spitfires goalie Michael DiPietro was questionable to start Sunday’s game after exiting at 4:48 of the third period in game five with an apparent injury to his right knee.

DiPietro said he felt okay and didn’t want to use his leg as a crutch.

“I knew how big today was,” said DiPietro. “It’s one of those injuries where you play through it…and I chose to. I did not want to put my team in a situation where I wasn’t in the net.”

Although DiPietro wasn’t working at 100 per cent, he said he didn’t regret his decision to play.

“I was just proud to be out there with my teammates till the last second,” he said. “We’re going to kind of enjoy the season and really put things into perspective on how well we’ve done and how much we’ve grown.”

“It was a huge thing for everybody (that Michael DiPietro start the game),” said Spitfires head coach Trevor Letowski. “I mean, if he wasn’t able to start the game, I think it would’ve really deflated our group. I think we would’ve played hard, no question, but just having him in there, I think it really helped us. He’s the leader of our team and he means a lot to us obviously.”

Windsor came out strong in the third period closing the gap to a 3-2 Sarnia lead on a goal by Zach Shankar at 5:16. But it was all Sarnia from that point.

“They (Sarnia) get up 3-0, and I don’t think there is a lot of teams that come back that hard like we did,” said Letowski. “We got it to 3-2 and I thought we were playing some really good hockey at that point. Lots of speed and we really pushed them. I was really happy with the push back, but it was just not quite enough.”

Sarnia scored an insurance goal at the half way point of the third and later added an empty net tally to complete the series win.

The Spitfires quickly became a very young team when overage players including Aaron Luchuk, Sean Day and Logan Stanley were all traded by general manager Warren Rychel at the trade deadline.

Letowski said he was very proud of his Spitfires’ players and how they developed during the season.

“I think I’m most proud of the fact the way our team came together,” said Letowski. “We’re a team that cares about each other and are going to kind of grow up together. The future is bright here in Windsor.”

Todd Shearon
By Todd Shearon April 7, 2018 10:01

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