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Saturday February 6th, 2016

Posted at 11:24pm

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Tim Cornett/WindsorSpitfires.com

The number one goalie in the Ontario Hockey League went head-to-head against the number goalie. It was a battle of goaltenders Saturday night. In the end, when the dust settled, Erie’s Devin Williams outmatched Windsor’s Michael DiPietro. The Spitfires’ turnovers were a big part of the loss as Windsor fell 5-4 to Canada’s top team.

Windsor’s offense was off to a fast start to the game. The team had numerous good chances deep in the Erie zone. Turning things up a notch, Luke Boka levelled his man down low to the praise of the crowd of 5000. A little later, Mikhail Sergachev laid a big hit along the boards that set up a Windsor steal. The puck was sent up to Mads Eller, and he beat the goalie blocker side. However, behind the play, Logan Stanley and Jake Marchment had dropped the gloves, and so the whistle had been blown. Therefore, unfortunately, Eller’s goal wouldn’t count. The Spits were awarded a powerplay following the fight, though. Still, luck was not on Windsor’s side. With six seconds to go in the opening period Erie struck with a shorthanded goal from Alex DeBrincat. A Windsor giveaway allowed the Erie player to make a nice move around Michael DiPietro and take the lead. The Otters had the 1-0 upper hand after one.

The Spitfires looked good coming out for the second, but the pressure wouldn’t last. Windsor’s woes continued when two players collided with each other, causing a turnover in the team’s end. The Otters took advantage of the mishap as DeBrincat set up Dylan Strome in front. Down by two, the Spits needed to pick it back up. They dug deep and their efforts paid off. When goaltender Devin Williams sent a pass from behind the net, Hayden McCool made him pay. Less than a minute after the Erie goal, he picked off the pass and fired it into the open net. Windsor then turned up the heat in the late minutes of the period. Connor Chatham and Mads Eller combined to deliver thunderous checks on the Otters defense, throughout the period and the night. At the other end, DiPietro remained solid in net. On what was a sure goal, the young goaltender patiently waited and denied Strome of a goal. He was down on his stomach, partially bumped by a Spits defender, but still managed to get his glove up and catch the puck. Strome was then flattened by a hit from Bradley Latour. Windsor countered with more pressure, but couldn’t quite get the equalizer. Following two periods of excellent hockey, the Spits were down 2-1.

Early in the third, Windsor would score that tying goal as the fans roared back to life. Right from a faceoff, Logan Brown surprised Williams with a glove-side shot. In front of his mother, who travelled to Windsor for the game, the Spits star tied the game. However, the Erie Otters quickly proved why they are Canada’s number one team. Three and a half minutes after Brown’s goal, Jordan Sambrook was able to put the puck past DiPietro on a 3-on-1 play. A little over a minute later, the Otters regained their two-goal lead, thanks to Brett Neumann’s redirection. Going down by two, the Spits looked a bit stirred. Nearly five minutes passed before Brendan Lemieux made it a one-goal game. His one-timer from the right circle easily beat Williams. Windsor was fired up once again and began to put the pressure back on the Otters. In an effort to even the game again, the Spits called DiPietro to the bench. For a little, it seemed as if they had a chance. A turnover in the Erie end would allow the Otters to score an empty net goal with 1:11 left. Coach Rocky Thompson called his timeout and rounded up his players. With a play set, the Spits took the faceoff. They burst into the Erie zone and Chatham scored to cut the lead to one five seconds later. Just over a minute remained, but the Spitfires couldn’t make it happen. In a hard-fought game, Windsor’s rally fell short against the Otters in a 5-4 loss.

The Spits are away from the WFCU Centre next week, but return Thursday, February 18th to play the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at 7:05pm. The night will mark the anniversary of the passing of Windsor Spitfires’ late captain, Mickey Renaud.

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