Spit­fires score four straight to down Ot­ters

Three-goal third ex­tends hex over Erie at WFCU Cen­tre

Windsor Star - - SPORTS - JIM PARKER

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.

DAX MELMER

The Spit­fires’ Michael DiPi­etro makes a save dur­ing OHL ac­tion against the vis­it­ing Erie Ot­ters at the WFCU Cen­tre Thurs­day.

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