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Friday October 4th, 2013

Posted at 8:07am

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Thursday night, the Spitfires outworked, outskated, and, simply, outplayed. Another stellar performance by Dalen Kuchmey, and three goals from Ben Johnson, gave the Spitfires a decisive 5-1 win over the Plymouth Whalers at the WFCU Centre.

Plymouth came out of the opening faceoff seemingly on a mission. A big save from Dalen Kuchmey was required just 16 seconds in. Not much went the Whalers’ way after that. With 14 minutes still remaining, they had four shots; they would not get another by the end of the period. They played defensive hockey while the Spits accumulated chances. Lots of consecutive hockey was played in the first, setting a good pace for the game. After twenty minutes, the Spitfires had a 15-4 shot advantage, though the two teams were at a scoreless stalemate on the score clock.

Early in the second period, the teams had a little scrum, with a Spitfires power-play arising from the incident. The Whalers defended hard, and as a result, were rewarded. A bad bounce off the stanchion allowed Ryan Hartman to break free on a shorthanded breakaway – only to be caught and tripped by Josh Ho-Sang. Consequently, a penalty shot ensued. Hartman was able to beat Kuchmey with a little forehand-to backhand-to forehand move to go up 1-0.

Windsor got itself into a little bit more trouble when two penalties were issued back to back: first, Remy Giftopoulos for a faceoff violation (he used his hand to pass the puck); then, Nick Ebert for delay of game. The Spits killed off the long 5-on-3 and got right back into play.

A minor brawl erupted following a crippling check delivered to Windsor rookie Ryan Moore. No power-plays stemmed from the fray.

Shortly after, though, the Spitfires evened the game. Despite Nick Ebert breaking his stick on a shot attempt, Windsor maintained possession. Slater Koekkoek backed up to the line and fired a wrist-shot. Ben Johnson got his stick on the puck and tipped it past Alex Nedeljkovic.

As time ticked down, the period was coming to an end. But not before Johnson could strike again. It was a repeated play from Windsor’s first goal. Koekkoek shot wide to the outside and Johnson incredibly managed to deflect it behind Nedeljkovic. The goal gave Windsor a 2-1 lead heading into the third period.

The game was still close to start eh final frame: the Spits defended their lead, and the Whalers tried for the equalizer. Moore, who was upended earlier in the game, was the difference maker. Ty Bilcke threw the puck wide and around to Moore. He hurled a quick shot toward the net and caught Nedeljkovic out of position for his first OHL goal. Windsor was in control, going up by a pair.

The Spitfires weren’t about to sit back against a tough Whalers team. They stuck it to Plymouth, scoring a shorthanded goal of their own. Johnson completed his hat trick by bumping one defender off the puck in the neutral zone, and stealing it from another. He entered the Plymouth zone with a burst of speed, and beat the goaltender with a low wrist-shot.

Just over two minutes later, Brady Vail rounded up the scoring. His shot from the point went wide, but Ryan Foss was beside the net to send the puck back. From the circle, Vail released a slap-shot that found the back of the net. On the play, Eric Diodati recorded his first OHL point with the second assist.

The Whalers decided to switch goalies with four minutes remaining in the game. Zack Bowman held out until the final buzzer. The Spitfires were victorious over the Whalers 5-1. Windsor nearly doubled Plymouth on the shot clock, outshooting the visitors 42-22.

For the second straight game, a Spitfire scored a hat trick, and Windsor swept the game’s three stars: first, Ben Johnson; second, Slater Koekkoek; third, Dalen Kuchmey.

The next game at the WFCU Centre is this Sunday, October 6th as the Spitfires take on the Niagara IceDogs.

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