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Cassels’ Hat Trick Burns Spits

Monday March 9th, 2015, 9:49am


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Playoff hopes are running thin in Windsor. Only a handful of games remain and the Spitfires are in a tough spot, with a tougher schedule ahead. They welcomed the Oshawa Generals to the WFCU Centre Sunday afternoon, where the visitors showed exactly why they were the number one ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League. Cole Cassels scored three for Oshawa as the Generals doubled the Spits 6-3.

Following a rough weekend, the Spitfires were inclined to feel exhausted. The game started at a slow pace, and Windsor had an opportunity early to grab the first goal on a powerplay. The Spits tried to set up for a goal, but a turnover at the blue line sent Cole Cassels on a breakaway. He made no mistake of slipping the puck past Brendan Johnston for the shorthanded goal. A little while later, Oshawa went up by two thanks to Sam Harding. The Generals broke out of their zone and into Windsor’s on a 3-on-2. Michael Dal Colle sent a pass to Harding, who lifted a backhand shot over the goalie’s glove. before long, though, the Spitfires cut the lead in half. A Windsor rush was partially broken up by the Oshawa defense. Cristiano DiGiacinto scooped up the loose puck and beat goaltender Ken Appleby with a quick shot. Not to be outdone, Cassels’ low, glove-side shot through traffic was too much for Johnston as the Generals regained their two-goal lead. Oshawa outshot Windsor 14-5 in the first, and led 3-1 at the intermission.

Windsor would again cut the lead to one in the second period when Slater Doggett scored his 22nd goal of the season. On a similar scoring play to the Generals, Doggett found a hole on the low, glove-side of the net to bring his team within one. It was still a close game, and Windsor was still in it. The team had chances to tie the game, but couldn’t come up with a goal. Instead, Oshawa reclaimed a two-goal advantage over the Spitfires. With speed, three players crossed the Windsor blue line. The trailer, Harding, received a pass and fired the puck high and in. The visitors nearly scored once more shortly thereafter. On another offensive rush, Johnston made an incredible heel save on Oshawa’s Michael Dal Colle. Sliding across the crease, the goalie went down and kicked up his skates to pull off an amazing stop and keep the score 4-2. At the other end, a little later, the Spitfires had a chance to come within one with a 5-on-3 man advantage. The powerplay would carry over into the third as the Spits couldn’t capitalize before the end of the period. After 40 minutes, Windsor was down 4-2.

Once both minor penalties were killed off, the Generals went back to work. Their offensive firepower pressure created chances down low. They would increase their lead to three following a fortuitous bounce off the end boards. The puck hit a stanchion and bounced off the side of the net onto Hunter Smith’s stick. He slid it across to Dal Colle for the easy, but unfortunate, goal. Windsor answered with one of its own just over a minute later. Lucas Venuto picked off the top corner with a sharp snapshot to cut the deficit to two. Although they tried to get another past Appleby, the Spitfires were just too tired. They were chasing the Generals and ended up taking a penalty. With the extra man, Cassels connected for his third of the game. The powerplay unit was passing well, and Cassels got the puck in the left circle. He fired a shot through a screen and past Johnston. The remaining minutes ticked away as Windsor lost 6-3 to the Oshawa Generals.

The Spitfires return to the ice Thursday, March 12th at 7:05pm to take on the Guelph Storm at the WFCU Centre.

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