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Sunday December 13th, 2015

Posted at 9:04pm

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Following his momentous first career shutout Friday night, Michael DiPietro got the start against the Kitchener Rangers Sunday afternoon. The young goalie didn’t disappoint as he picked up his second straight win. His team and he went on to win 4-3 in overtime in what was a tough bout against the Rangers.

Early into the game, the Spitfires jumped on the board first, at the hands of Cristiano DiGiacinto. Cole Carter sent him the puck in the left circle, and he fired a wicked wrist-shot into the net.

And then the teddy bears flew. Hundreds of stuffed animals were hurled onto the ice as part of Windsor’s annual Teddy Bear Toss.

As the bears were being collected, the crown remained energetic. The atmosphere inside the WFCU Centre was electric – and it picked up from there. The Spits pounced right back on the rangers and scored 32 seconds later. Rookie Gabriel Vilardi put Windsor up by a pair after scooping up a stolen puck. One-on-one with the goaltender, he made the move to beat Luke Richardson. Windsor’s presence in the opening period was dominating. The team maintained pressure and created close chances. The Spitfires were up two heading into period two.

The Rangers seemed to have recovered from a rough first period. The visitors were skating harder and pushing for their first goal. It came three and a half minutes into the period. David Miller’s initial shot was stopped by DiPietro, but there to put in the rebound was Darby Llewellyn. Shortly after the goal, Windsor newcomer Brendan Lemieux was called for a double-minor for high-sticking. The Spitfires, however, stayed resilient and strong, killing off the full four minutes. The Rangers managed to strike later anyway, when Gustaf Franzen made a nifty move in close. The forward skated around the defender, slid the puck across the crease and squeezed it between the goalie’s skate and the post. The game was even at two, but that wouldn’t last. With the man-advantage, Bradley Latour’s slapshot off a rebound put Windsor back in the lead. On a powerplay of their own, the Rangers tied the game again late in the middle period. Through a crowd in front, Ryan MacInnis fired a shot that somehow found the back of the net. The teams were all tied up at three after 40 minutes.

The teams kicked off the third with a bit of bad blood. Frank Hora instigated a battle with defenseman Logan Stanley, but the Windsor player pummeled the Ranger with fists. The crowd roared back to life. The fans would later let their voices be heard again when a complex scrum left the Spits down a player. Windsor had a hard time from then on, seemingly chasing the puck without any offense. The team struggled to clear pucks and were drained in the second half of the period. DiPietro helped his team stay in it with timely saves as he kept the Rangers at bay. When the buzzer sounded, the Spitfires were able to regroup and catch their breath a little while awaiting overtime.

Kitchener controlled most of the action to start the extra time. The Rangers were cycling well and maintained puck possession away from the Spits. It would ironically become their downfall. Upon entering Windsor’s zone, a Kitchener player turned around, but tripped along the boards. Jalen Chatfield was there to steal the loose puck and bolt up the ice with his teammates. He dished the puck off to Aaron Luchuk, who found Latour in the slot. His shot bounced high up in the air before dropping to the ice – in front of Chatfield. He slapped it in and celebrated with the rest of the team. Windsor stopped Kitchener’s come-from-behind attempt, winning 4-3 in overtime.

The Spitfires are in action this Thursday, December 17th at 7:05pm against the Saginaw Spirit in their last home game before the Christmas break.

 

 

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