by Brett Hedges
Sports Editor – The Lance
With a hat trick from Aaron Luchuk and 37 saves from Alex Fotinos, The Windsor Spitfires have successfully defeated the North Bay Battalion 5-4 in Ontario Hockey League action at the WFCU Centre, Dec. 7.
Two days after dropping an 8-5 offensive shootout to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, the Spitfires took a 3-1 lead into the third period against the Battalion, who came to Windsor sitting second overall in the OHL Eastern Conference at 14-7-5-1.
It took Luchuk’s first OHL hat trick, a power play goal from Logan Brown, a short-handed, empty-net goal by former Battalion member Jamie Lewis and 37 saves by Fotinos to secure Windsor’s third win in four games. Luckuk was also able to double his season goal total in the game.
“Six looks a lot better than three,” Luchuk said. “But it’s good to get those goals and the team a win.”
Luchuk opened up the Spitfires scoring in the first period on a pass from Luke Kirwan that sent more then 4,500 teddy bears to the ice for the OHL’s annual Teddy Bear Toss. The 17-year olds second goal of the evening came from a bad angle that bounced in off of Battalion goaltender Evan Cormier. The third came on a 2-on-1 chance on a cross-ice pass from Slater Doggett.
Fotinos had to be sharp for the entire 60 minute duration of the game as North Bay peppered him with shots until the final seconds when he stopped Battalion forward, Nick Paul from point blank range and the Spitfires leading 5-4. Overall, Fotinos made 37 saves, including a pair of goal reviews from the replay officials to ensure the puck didn’t cross the goal-line.
“They were good on the power-play, they put a lot of guys in front,” said Fotinos. “It was really tough to see, but that short-handed goal from Lewis was huge.”
With the Spitfires leading 4-3 and Cristiano DiGiacinto sent to the penalty box for delay of game with 1:35 remaining, the Battalion put goaltender Cormier to the bench for the extra attacker. After Slater Doggett cleared the puck to the middle of the Spitfires zone, Lewis spun and knocked the puck down the ice as he fell to his knees. The 5,100 fans in attendance collectively held their breath as the puck crossed the goal-line and cemented the Spitfires victory. North Bay would add a power-play goal with 43 seconds remaining but Fotinos would not allow the equalizer.
“We’ve had terrible luck but you create your own luck,” said Spitfires head coach Bob Boughner. “We had six penalties. You can’t take six or seven penalties and expect to have a good penalty kill.”
The Spitfires win improves their record to 10-16-1 for a total of 21 points, which puts them in striking distance of the Plymouth Whalers and the Saginaw Spirit at the bottom of the OHL’s western conference. With a road trip going through North Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie coming up, the Spitfires can attempt to close the gap on the rest of the western conference nearing the midway point of their season.
The Spitfires will return to the WFCU Centre, Dec. 19 against the Spirit. Puck drop is 7:05 p.m.