by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
A recent three-game losing streak has the Windsor Spitfires five points out of a playoff spot in the OHL’s Western conference.
After dropping a hard fought 7-5 decision to the Owen Sound Attack at the WFCU Centre Feb. 5, the Spitfires lost a pair of road games on consecutive nights. First was a 5-2 loss to the Oshawa Generals Feb. 6, followed by a 6-3 loss to the Peterborough Petes Feb. 7.
The Spitfires faced a tall task against the CHL’s No.1-ranked team, the Oshawa Generals, Feb. 6. Generals head coach D.J. Smith was an assistant coach with Windsor during their back-to-back Memorial Cup championships but gave his former team no favours in this meeting.
Brown opened the scoring for Windsor midway through the first period but Oshawa would score the next five goals. Murphy got on the board for Windsor and Slater Doggett scored two goals to cut the score down to 5-3, however the Petes scored into an empty net in the final minute to bring the score to 6-3.
Prior to battling the Attack the following night, Windsor had the same amount of wins as Owen Sound, but had played two more games than the Attack, who are currently ranked sixth in the OHL’s Western conference with 55 points. Windsor is 21-28-1-1 and sits in ninth place with 45 points.
Spitfires head coach Bob Boughner said the turning point of the game against Owen Sound was Windsor’s inability to keep a 3-1 lead intact before the end of the second period.
“We let them back into the game,” said Boughner. “ If you get out of that period up 3-1 or even 3-2, it’s a different game going into the third.”
The Attack scored on the powerplay with less than five minutes remaining in the frame to cut Windsor’s lead to one and scored again just over a minute later to tie it up headed into the third period.
Owen Sound would take a 4-3 lead on Spitfire Erik Bradford’s unassisted goal in the period, but Windsor’s Jamie Lewis would score two goals within 80 seconds to chase Attack goalie Jack Flinn, who stopped 28 of 33 shots, in favour of Michael McNiven.
“Once we get the lead, we have to play harder,” said Lewis. “Their fifth goal gave them the momentum they needed.”
A powerplay goal from Owen Sound’s Thomas Schemitsch would prove to be the winning goal, as the Spitfires only mustered two shots on McNiven in the final 15 minutes. A pair of goals in the final three minutes would give the Attack a 7-5 lead and the road victory.
With Spitfires captain and veteran defenseman Patrick Sanvido out with an injury and fellow defenseman Trevor Murphy serving the last of a four-game suspension, Boughner said the lack of experience on defence was evident by Windsor’s inability to hold a lead against Owen Sound.
“We need them back, Murphy’s puck movement [especially],” said Boughner. “But he’s played shut-down minutes as well and we missed that. Murphy plays 25-30 minutes a night and that’s irreplaceable. We’ll be better for it with him in the lineup, that’s for sure.”
The loss spoiled a good output from Spitfires centre Logan Brown, who scored back-to-back goals in the first period to put Windsor up 3-1. Brown added an assist later on Lewis’s first goal of the game for three points on the evening. Afterward, Brown was more concerned about the outcome rather than his offensive output.
“It’s just frustrating, a few defensive breakdowns cost us the game,” said Brown. “Three points is nice but it means nothing without a win.”
Boughner said he was happy with Brown’s performance but thought he had to play too much in the Spitfires defensive zone throughout the game.
“Logan was great tonight, he was great offensively, hungry on the puck,” said Boughner. “If you get efforts like that you should be able to win hockey games.”
Windsor will return home to host the Kitchener Rangers at the WFCU Centre Feb. 12.