Spitfires Fading In OHL Playoff Race

Windsor Spitfires goaltender Alex Fotinos makes a save against the Ottawa 67's, Feb. 26 at WFCU Centre. Windsor beat Ottawa in overtime 4-3 and are tied for the final Western conference playoff spot as of March 1. [Photo by // Kevin Jarrold]

by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor

Nine games remain for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL regular season, whether they play in the OHL postseason is another question.

After coming back and defeating the Ottawa 67’s 4-3 in overtime at the WFCU Centre Feb. 26, the Spitfires dropped a 5-3 road game to Sault Ste. Marie Feb. 27 before coming back home and losing 4-2 to the Sarnia Sting March 1, getting outshot 50-22 in the process.

After the weekend culminated in the loss to Sarnia, Spitfires associate head coach Bob Jones had few words to describe Windsor’s play.

“Overall, not a good enough effort,” said Jones. “I thought we were sluggish, I thought maybe our legs would get under us but they never really got underneath us and we didn’t get enough pucks to the net to make it a contest.”

The race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the OHL western conference is well underway. While the Spitfires were battling the past several weeks to chase the Saginaw Spirit in points, the Plymouth Whalers put together a nice string of performances and only trail the Spirit and Spitfires by two points.

With Sarnia now 10 points ahead of Windsor and Saginaw, a three-horse race including Plymouth will decide the final playoff spot in the western conference.

The Spirit and Whalers will battle each other four times over their final nine games of the regular season while the Spitfires will battle the  Greyhounds, Kitchener Rangers and the CHL’s No. 1 team the Oshawa Generals, over a four day span beginning March 5 at the WFCU Centre.

Jones said regardless of the opponent, the Spitfires need points to qualify for the playoffs.

“A point or two a night is something we have to try and get every night,” said Jones. “We’re all looking at the standings, of course, but we just have to play one game at a time and hopefully sneak out a point here and there.”

Overage forward Slater Doggett said the Spitfires played well for the first half of the three-game stretch but two points out of a possible six is not what Windsor was hoping for. Now their focus is on their upcoming opponents in the final games of the regular season.

“We’re going to work hard all week in practice, make sure we’re ready,” said Doggett. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to be prepared. I know everyone’s mind is on winning the next three games.”

The lone bright spot in the loss to Sarnia was the Spitfires ability to keep it close thanks to a 46-save performance from goaltender, Alex Fotinos. Fotinos said the Spitfires played well against Ottawa and Sault Ste. Marie but a slow start against the Sting was tough to overcome.

“We’re in the right mindset but we’re going to go back to basics here,” said Fotinos. “We’re going to have to take the momentum we have and work on our structure. We dont want any excuses, so we’re just going to have to bounce and get some points.

Jones said Fotinos gave Windsor a chance to steal a point but some sloppy defensive play in the third period was the difference.

“Anytime you give up 50 shots, you’re doing more wrong than right,” said Jones. “We’ve had good enough goaltending as of late. Every night they have kept us in it and some nights we’re finding a way to get us a point or two and some nights we are not. But tonight we didn’t have a good enough effort.”

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