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On a night where Windsor celebrated former captain Ryan Ellis, the Spitfires of 2016 lit up the red light. The rivalry ensued between the London Knights and the Windsor Spitfires, with the Spits standing tall. Bradley Latour scored three goals, and Logan Stanley added two, as the Spitfires handily beat the Knights 8-3 in Saturday night action at the WFCU Centre.
Prior to the game, the Spitfires and the fans honoured former defenseman Ryan Ellis in a special banner-raising ceremony. The crowd, the organization and the players all thanked the Nashville Predator for the excellent years of hockey that he had given Windsor.
The tone of the game would be set minutes into the opening period with a few tough scuffles. Logan Stanley left his mark on London’s Matthew Tkachuk after the two eyed each other, and then dropped the gloves. The intensity certainly picked up and the tensions rose. The Western Conference rivalry, as it usually does, provided solid hockey up and down the ice. The battles at both ends were hard-fought as the teams dug for the game’s first goal. Near the end of the period, the play had quieted down a bit. The period remained scoreless after the first 20 minutes.
A busy second period took a turn for the better, for Windsor at least. The players quickly paved the way to a blowout with an early goal. Picking up the puck in the slot, Aaron Luchuk slid a pass to Logan Stanley. He blasted a top-shelf slapshot à la Ryan Ellis to grab the game’s first goal. Five minutes later, Cristiano DiGiacinto skated between a few defenders before sending a pass back to Hayden McCool. From between the circles, he fired a shot too quick for Tyler Parsons. The Spits found themselves in a bit of trouble a little later when they took back-to-back penalties. The special teams didn’t fret, though, killing off both infractions. In response, they came out and picked up another goal. Bradley Latour redirected Brendan Lemieux’s initial shot past Parsons and in. frustration built for Knights at this point. Down in the Windsor end, Chandler Yakimowicz jumped newest Spitfire Mads Eller. He received a match penalty for the play, and Windsor went on a 5-minute powerplay. Logan Brown made London pay 49 seconds into the major penalty. Setting up the incredible pass, while falling to the ice beside the net, was Christian Fischer. His backhand pass to the other side found Brown, who then squeaked a shot in before the goalie could make it across. Brown paid homage to Ellis with his goal celebration as he pumped his arms while skating to the bench. Two periods were down, and the Spits had a 4-0 lead.
With Windsor now in the pilot’s seat, the lively crowd was raucous and roaring in excitement. Despite an early London goal from Mitch Marner, the Spits were still pressing on. Even while down a player, they continued to work hard. Shorthanded, Latour scored his second of the night after picking off Parsons’ pass attempt off the ice. He fired the puck into the empty net as Windsor regained its four-goal lead. Minutes passed, and Windsor definitely had the pressure. That, in combination of London’s ongoing woes, allowed the Spitfires to go on a 5-on-3 of their own. And they absolutely delivered. First, Mikhail Sergachev sent a message to the Knights with a powerful slapshot. Now up just one player, Windsor was still able to take advantage. Stanley scored his second of the night after swatting a rebound in front. He, too, showed off his best Ellis celebration, and for good reason. The Knights would later add a shorthanded goal of their own into the mix as Max Jones caught goalie Mario Culina down too early. The Spitfires were still strong offensively. Following a tussle in the London end, Latour was awarded a penalty shot. He made good use of it with a forehand-backhand move. He then slipped the puck under the pad and across the line for his third goal of the night late in the third. Less than half a minute remained, but Chris Martenet managed to beat Culina low glove side to close out the scoring. In an incredible performance, the Spitfires skated away with an 8-3 blowout win over the Knights.