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Sunday September 29th, 2013

Posted at 7:36am

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The engines are warmed up. In fact, they’re on fire.

The spark was lit in Windsor, and Saturday night, it was hard to contain. Kerby Rychel’s five-point night (three goals, two assists), followed by goalie Dalen Kuchmey’s impressive debut, left the 4854 fans with a memorable night of Spitfires hockey. They crushed the Erie Otters 8-4 on a rare Saturday night game at the WFCU Centre.

Other notable players for the Spitfires were Brady Vail (two goals, two assists) and Josh Ho-Sang (one goal, three assists).

At the beginning, the game favoured the visitors. Windsor blocked a pass, but couldn’t get control in the front of the net. Connor Brown capitalized on the opportunity for the Otters to score the game’s first goal early in the opening frame.

In spite of its previous games, the Spits kept their heads up. They kept the energy going. Not long after the Erie goal, they scored the equalizer. Brady Vail skated in, considered a pass, and then lifted the puck high into the top on the net to tie the game.

To cap off a well-played period, the Spitfires took the lead. Kerby Rychel passed to Josh Ho-Sang, who worked his magic in close after splitting the defense. His shot was saved, but Rychel was there to finish the play for his first goal of the game.

The goal marked Windsor’s first lead of the season.

It didn’t take the Spits long to keep the fire burning in the second period – a mere 57 seconds to be exact. Windsor’s top duo connected again. A soft backhand from Ho-Sang found Rychel, and his short-side shot made it behind goalie Devin Williams.

Vail extended his team’s lead to three with his wrist-shot from the middle of the blue line. The puck was sent towards the traffic in front, and found its way to the back of the net.

The Otters, though down a few goals, weren’t ready to sit back. Michael Curtis’ fast shot from the right circle beat Kuchmey up high to make it a two-goal game.

23 seconds later, Windsor regained its three-goal lead. A short pass to the Spitfires’ captain in the slot led to the team’s fifth goal of the game, and his second of the night.

Ben Johnson followed suit by scoring one of his own just 27 seconds later. When the Otters’ defender misplayed the puck at centre ice, a speedy Johnson made them pay. His quick breakaway goal gave the Spitfires a whopping 6-2 lead, not even past the midway point of the second period.

Erie was barely hanging on but managed to keep the score the same until the buzzer sounded.

The Otters were persistent and refused to back away, despite the drastic lead. They continued to play hard in the third, and Stephen Harper got them to within three.

Once more, the tandem of Rychel and Ho-Sang struck offensively. Ho-Sang skated wide along the boards before throwing a pass across the crease to Rychel. The initial stop was made, but the loose puck was put in the net. The goal topped off Rychel’s hat trick.

On the play, Erie’s Harper received a match penalty for slew-footing, ending his night. As a result, the Spitfires had a five-minute power-play. And they made it count with finesse.

Windsor’s top scorers – Vail, Rychel and Ho-Sang – entered the Erie zone. Vail’s soft shot rebounded to the right. Rychel picked up the puck and passed it through his legs to Ho-Sang. All alone out front, he scored the easy goal on the mostly empty net.

With a little over five minutes to play, and although the Spitfires had themselves eight goals, Erie hadn’t fully thrown in the towel. The Otters had a short three-on-one inside the Spitfires’ zone, and Andre Burakovsky was able to beat Kuchmey.

In the last minute, tempers flared for the Otters as Cory Genovese and Ty Bilcke exchanged punches. Bilcke landed good shots before being pulled away, bleeding from the mouth, and taunting the Erie bench for good measure.

The Windsor Spitfires earned a bit of redemption following the rough start to the season with an 8-4 win over the Erie Otters.

The Spits are back home next Thursday, October 3rd as they battle the Plymouth Whalers.

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