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Friday March 8th, 2013

Posted at 7:58am

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Down, but not out. With ten days and four games left, the Windsor Spitfires are fighting for their playoff lives. Following a rough weekend, the Spits returned home and proved that they are a contending team. Kerby Rychel scored two goals, and Jaroslav Pavelka’s strong goaltending helped the Spitfires pulled off an enormous 7-4 win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Thursday night, at the WFCU Centre.

To start the opening period, Sault Ste. Marie showed off some of its talented offense. Three minutes in, a shot from the point – tipped by Jared McCann – caught Pavelka going the other way. The Hounds struck again 40 seconds later. Brandon Alderson skated into the slot and snapped a tricky shot. Pavelka got a piece of it with his glove, but the puck made its way into the net for an early two-goal Sault Ste. Marie lead. Moments later, the visitors almost went up by three when Tyler Ganly tipped the puck behind the Windsor goalie. The play was ruled as a high-stick and nulled. Shortly after, the Spitfires got the game’s first power-play. The man-advantage had just ended as Alexander Khokhlachev passed to Adam Bateman on the point. His wrist-shot was tipped by Kerby Rychel, and unseen by goalie Justin Nichols. Windsor found itself in a tough spot when the team took a minor penalty. However, the infraction favoured the Spits. Alex Aleardi sprung Brady Vail on a shorthanded breakaway. Following a forehand-backhand deke, Vail slid the puck between Nichols’ legs to score the equalizer. In less than two minutes, the Spitfires had come back and tied the game. The score remained even at two after 20 minutes.

Once again in the second period, the Greyhounds grabbed the first goal. Ryan Sproul scored on the power-play with a one-timer that beat Pavelka. Though the goal sank the Spits a bit, they didn’t quit. Windsor’s drive quickly kicked in as they scored the game’s next three goals in a span of 4:05. Rookie star Josh Ho-Sang started the engines with a little breakaway after stickhandling past a few defenders. To take the lead, Ben Johnson’s wrap-around attempt was stopped, but his efforts managed to stuff the puck behind Nichols. Remy Giftopoulos put the Spitfires up by two after the ‘Hounds goaltender misplayed the puck to his defender. It was stolen by Giftopoulos behind the net, and fired past Nichols from a sharp angle. Following Windsor’s fifth goal, Sault Ste. Marie decided on a goalie change and brought in Matt Murray. The ‘Hounds got themselves back into the game with a goal 20 seconds later to cut the lead to one. McCann backhanded the puck out front, but it went off of Pavelka and into the net. To close out the period, Khokhlachev’s moves and backhand shot came just a second too late as the buzzer sounded. At the end of the high-scoring second period, Windsor had a 5-4 lead over Sault Ste. Marie.

The Greyhounds started the third with a little bit of pressure. They nearly tied the game when the puck trickled in the crease, but Pavelka reached behind before it could slide in. in response, the Spitfires fired back with pressure of their own. Rychel came close when he had Murray down and out of position. His shot was barely stopped by the pad. Later, a shot bounced off the back boards and over the goalie’s skate. Windsor’s continuous energy and efforts paid off. Khokhlachev circled behind the net and found Rychel sneaking in. the pass made for an easy power-play goal as the Spits regained their two-goal lead. Down by a pair, the ‘Hounds tried to pull all the stops, including the goalie. Windsor was able to get control of the puck in the Soo zone and put the game away. A pass to Nick Ebert for the slap-shot into the empty net sealed the victory for the Spitfires. Windsor won a wild one Thursday night 7-4 over Sault Ste. Marie.

The Spitfires narrowed the gap in the western conference with the victory. They are now six points away from the Saginaw Spirit.

Windsor’s next home game is this Sunday, March 10th when they welcome London.

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