A Disappointing End to What Seemed To Be A Promising Season
by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
If you are the Windsor Spitfires, the best thing about the 2014-2015 Ontario Hockey League regular season is that it is finally over.
After scraping and clawing to put themselves tied for a playoff position in late February, the Spitfires dropped their last 11 games of the season to finish in second-last place overall in the OHL. Windsor will now select second overall in the upcoming OHL draft this summer.
The final three game stretch of regular season began with a 7-4 loss to Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters in the final home game of the year in front of a sold-out crowd at the WFCU Centre Mar. 19. That loss was coupled with a 7-2 setback against the Sarnia Sting at RBC Centre Mar. 20 and finally culminated in a 12-1 defeat by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Mar. 21.
Against the Otters, the game was tied 4-4 midway through the third period before Erie’s Alex DeBrincat scored his second of the game and 49th of the regular season to take a 5-4 lead. Nick Baptiste scored three minutes later and the Otters added an empty-net goal to make it a 7-4 final.
Spitfires associate coach Bob Jones said it was a spirited effort but his team fell short in a few areas which allowed Erie to walk out with a win.
“I thought we competed hard for most of the game,” said Jones. “I thought it was an even game. We were lucky to get a power play goal and a short-handed goal. Any time you’re playing a team like Erie and you’re tied 4-4 with 10 minutes left in the third, I think you’re doing a few things right but once again we had a couple defensive errors and that’s how it’s been all year.”
Erie’s McDavid is ranked as the top prospect headed into the NHL draft this summer and has sold out almost every arena he has played in during the latter part of the regular season. McDavid had three assists against the Spitfires and finished the regular season with 120 points in 47 games played. Otters teammate Dylan Strome won the scoring race with 129 points in 68 games played.
After the game in Windsor, McDavid shrugged off his opportunity to win the scoring title and said he’d like to see teammate Strome win it.
“It’s not really on my mind, I’ll just be looking to help my teammates and we’ll see what happens,” said McDavid. “I’m just looking forward to getting the team going and get ready for the playoffs.”
Windsor overage forward Slater Doggett played in his final OHL home game against the Otters and said it was a good, fun game to be a part of.
“I think we were happy with our compete level,” said Doggett. “No one wants to compete in a meaningless game, but we’re proud of the way we played against such a great team with great players. It sucks to lose, we all want to win, but we’re happy we all brought it and we showed some pride tonight.”
Doggett finished his OHL career with highs in goals (25) and points (51). Fellow overage forward Lucas Venuto and Jamie Lewis both scored goals against the Otters with Lewis scoring short-handed in first period and Venuto scoring on the power-play to give the Spitfires a 4-3 lead headed into the third.
With the regular season over, the Spitfires will now select second overall in the OHL priority draft this summer after the Plymouth Whalers finished one point ahead of them in the standings. Windsor will select only behind the Sudbury Wolves in the draft.