Windsor Spitfires Win Memorial Cup
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The Windsor Spitfires defied the odds and are now Memorial Cup champions.
With a frenzied, sold-out, partisan crowd behind them, the Spitfires prevailed after a back-and-forth affair and beat the Erie Otters 4-3 Sunday night in the 99th Mastercard Memorial Cup at the WFCU Centre in Windsor.
With this win, the Spitfires are the first host team to win the cup since the Shawinigan Cataractes in 2012.
The Spits also made history by becoming the first team in Cup history to win the Memorial Cup after being eliminated in the first round of their league playoffs. Windsor was knocked out in seven games earlier this spring by the rival Knights, last year’s Cup winners.
Jeremy Bracco, a midseason acquistion for the Spitfires, scored the game’s first goal and had two assists. Speaking to BlackburnNews.com on the ice in the midst of a wild victory celebration, Bracco says it was important to get that first score.
“We wanted to get the crowd in the game, and we did fortunately. It was a great bounce that I got on the power play there and things were going well for us all night,” says Bracco. “It was a lot of fun.”
The Spitfires scored the first goal in every game they played during the tournament and won each game.
Windsor made its fourth appearance in the Cup tournament ever, winning its third in franchise history. The team won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.
Aaron Luchuk, who scored the game-winning goal in the third period, says this team did not know the meaning of the word “quit” after being knocked out of the OHL playoffs and dealt professionally with a lengthy layoff.
“With those 44 days off, a lot of those guys could’ve easily said ‘This is it. Whatever. We’re gonna play three games and be out,'” says Luchuk. “But these guys came out. 7am at the rink running 5-ks. And we won.”
After Bracco opened the scoring at 16:07 in the opening period, the Otters fought back as Dylan Strome put his tournament-leading seventh goal into the net to tie it up at one. Erie took the lead at 5:35 in the second period on a power play goal from Warren Foegele, but Windsor tied the game again less than a minute later when Logan Stanley scored his only Cup goal. Both teams exchanged scores again before the second intermission, as T.J. Fergus’ goal gave Erie a 3-2 lead, then Windsor’s Graham Knott scored on the power play. Luchuk’s game-winner came at 5:07 in the third period.
Michael DiPietro stopped 32 out of 35 Erie shots in goal for the Spitfires. Erie’s Troy Timpano had 18 saves out of a possible 22 shots.
— Chris McLeod (@CKSYChris) May 29, 2017