Spitfires cannot calm the Storm

Cody Rusan
By Cody Rusan February 9, 2018 13:06

By Cody Rusan

While the Windsor Spitfires and Guelph Storm look as though they will make the OHL playoffs, it will not be easy for the Spits to avoid a first round battle with the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds.

The Greyhounds sit first in the Western Conference and also rank first in the CHL. They are the first OHL team to earn a position in this season’s playoffs. The current record for the Greyhounds is 43-5-2-1, led by forward Morgan Frost. Through the incredible season so far, Frost has 87 points in 51 games played. These numbers include 32 goals and 55 assists.

On Feb. 8, the Storm and Spitfires took to the ice with the Spits looking to gain points to get away from eighth. In the standings, four points is all that separated the two teams before the game. The Storm sat at 54 points, good enough for seventh place and the Spits went in sitting at 50: good enough for the eighth and final playoff spot. The closest challenger is last year’s OHL Champions, the Erie Otters, at 11 points away, the Spits have some breathing room. Though the Spitfires entered the game riding a six-game losing streak, this did not seem to phase them during the first two periods.

The Spitfires built on early opportunities and pummeled the Storm goaltender with shots. Luke Boka scored his twelfth goal of the season to put Windsor on the board first at 13 minutes into the first. Just 33 seconds later the Storm answered. Dallas Stars’ prospect, Liam Hawel tied the game with his ninth goal of the season. The Storm jumped to a 3-1 lead in the second period, but the Spitfires did not go quietly. Just 20 seconds after the Storm scored their third, Chris Playfair deflected his fifth into the net making it 3-2. Jake Smith would net his fifteenth goal of the season to tie it, but the Storm scored once more to bring the game to 4-3. Storm goaltender, Anthony Popovich gave the Spitfires a hard time all night, stopping 26 of Windsor’s 29 chances.

Even in defeat, this young Spitfires team gained momentum. They were not having any issues finding their shots, they just faced a hot goaltender in Popovich.

“We played a good first two periods. We were skating really well, it just kinda slipped away,” said Spitfires’ Thomas Stevenson. “We were getting a lot of shots at first. We have got to get to the net a little more, but we were aggressive.”

Stevenson is in his first season with the Spitfires and currently has six points in 50 games played. He earned an assist in the 4-3 loss to the Storm.

“We were really hard on their defense, we made it difficult for them tonight,” said Stevenson. “If we keep fighting, it will come. We are not going to lose every game of the season.”

With the loss, the Spitfires are now stuck in a seven game losing skid. One would think that a locker room full of young players would be down in the dumps. But for this team, that is not the case.

“You do not really want to think about it too much,” said Spitfires’ Daniel D’Amico. “Yeah, it is still there [the losing skid] but you have just gotta fix your mistakes.”

Like Stevenson, D’Amico is in his first season with the Spits. After the game against the Storm, he has 13 points in 42 games played. He earned an assist in the Feb. 8 game.

With a seven game losing streak in the back of their minds, the road does not get easier for the Windsor team. They will travel to Saginaw to take on the Spirit on Feb. 10 then return home the next day to host the Niagara IceDogs. Following that, the Spits will rest until they host the Barrie Colts on Feb. 15.   

Cody Rusan
By Cody Rusan February 9, 2018 13:06

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