The OHL Champion Spitfires dropped their first two games of the Memorial Cup tournament (to Drummondville and Rimouski) before beating Western powerhouse Kelowna to force a tiebreaker on Thursday night vs. Rimouski. The Spits were down two goals entering the 3rd period in that game, but Leaf prospect Dale Mitchell scored 3 goals in 3:33 of the third period to propel the Spits into the lead; Windsor won the game 6-4 to earn a berth in the last night’s semi-final vs. Drummondville. In other words, the Spits have taken the hardest possible road to get to the Cup Final. A physically large and very talented Kelowna Rockets club has been waiting since Wednesday night, watching the other 3 teams clobber each other in an effort to get to the Final. If the Spits win the Memorial Cup, they will be the first team to do so by going through the tiebreaker procedure in the history of the tournament.
Here’s Adam Henrique’s winning goal from overtime last night:
First period: Two early chances for Taylor Hall, then a frantic series in the Windsor zone at about the 3 minute mark in which Engelage is down and out and Adam Henrique collapses to the front of his goal (I think) and makes a terrific block on a sure goal from Riendeau. Drummondville is buzzing; I believe they have the generally superior team speed. If they are able to keep that kind of pace up, Windsor will be in trouble. On the other hand, if the Spitfires are able to keep the pressure on Drummondville over the entire ice surface, disrupting their flow, the Spitfires will win.
Things seem to be settling down a wee bit; the teams are racing back and forth a bit. It is encouraging to see the Spitfires breaking up some of the Drummondville rushes, but these wide open opportunities at the feet of Engelage are obviously not on the menu. As an aside, why the hell are we doing an in-game interview with coach Bob Boughner less than seven minutes in to the game? Is he really likely to have gained a lot of insight into the game at that point?
Dale Mitchell is down and hurt at the Drummondville blue line after a collision with Drummondville defenceman Ryan McKiernan, resulting in the game’s first penalty (for kneeing). Nemisz blasts one wide left from the slot. The power play – for a change – is actually maintaining control of the puck in the offensive zone. The PP is over now, Cousineau wasn’t seriously challenged, but he was required to make a couple of quick saves; the penalty has been served. Windsor seems to have begun dictating play once again, but then a loose puck is recovered by Jonathon Brunelle in the Windsor zone and a battle for the puck in the corner leads to a Windsor penalty. Engelage makes a huge save on a wide-open Vachon to keep the game scoreless. Timmins and MacDermid manage some good pressure down ice while shorthanded and force a couple of face offs. The penalty is killed successfully. A minute or two later, Johnathon Brunelle is trying to do a preview of the Indy 500 in the Windsor zone; he’s carrying the puck around and around the perimeter of the zone, occasionally centring the puck dangerously and – just as often – recovering it himself. Thankfully, that little flurry ends harmlessly.