Spitfires score four straight to down Otters
Three-goal third extends hex over Erie at WFCU Centre
More than six months later, the Erie Otters are still looking for that elusive win against the Windsor Spitfires at the WFCU Centre.
Erie dropped both games to Windsor in May’s Memorial Cup and watched a three-goal lead evaporate on Thursday in 4-3 win by the Spitfires before 4,204 at the WFCU Centre.
It marked the third straight game the Spitfires have beaten the Otters by a 4-3 score, including the Memorial Cup final.
“That was an exciting win,” Spitfires head coach Trevor Letowski said. “We continue to find ways to stick with it. It’s a resilient bunch and they play hard to the end.”
Both teams are just shells of the clubs that met at the Memorial Cup, but Thursday’s win was key for the Spitfires, who opened a double-digit lead on the Otters, who sit in ninth place in the Western Conference and out of the playoff picture.
“That’s huge,” said Spitfires captain Aaron Luchuk, whose team has picked up nine points in five games over the last eight days. “Points are hard to come by and it seems every night teams in the (Western Conference) are winning. To keep pace, you have to win the game at home, especially teams below you and that was huge win for us.”
Windsor was playing its fifth game in eight days and the club looked sluggish as the Otters built a 3-0 lead in the second period.
Kyle Maksimovich had the lone goal of the first period and Taylor Raddysh and Chad Yetman stretched that lead with less than five minutes left in the second period.
“It’s been a tough, gruelling schedule,” Luchuk said.
With 91 seconds left in the second period, Kirill Kozhevnikov got the comeback started for the Spitfires and sent the teddy bears flying onto the ice.
“People were excited for Kozzy’s goal and just seeing the teddy bears come over the glass everyone kind of got a jump in their step,” Spitfires rookie Will Sirman said.
Officials opted to send the teams to the dressing room and allowed time for the stuffed animals, which went to Sparky’s Toy Drive, to be collected.
Erie pushed in the third period and nearly restored its three-goal lead on a power play, but Spitfires’ goalie Mikey DiPietro made a pair of acrobatic saves to keep his team within two goals.
Luchuk, who scored the winning goal in May’s Memorial Cup final, got the Spitfires to within a goal and Logan Brown tied it with a power-play goal.
An Erie turnover opened the door for Luchuk to break out three-on-two and he fed Sirman for the game-winning goal.
There were a few anxious moments to the finish line, which included a replay review that overturned what Erie thought was the game-tying goal at the buzzer, but Ivan Lodnia’s shot went in after the final buzzer.
The Spitfires’ Michael DiPietro makes a save during OHL action against the visiting Erie Otters at the WFCU Centre Thursday.